Electric vehicles (EVs) are deemed to be the new trend in the transportation industry, with China, Europe and the United States (US) taking the lead as main markets, according to a report entitled “Tracking Progress: Electric Vehicles,” released by the International Energy Agency (IEA).
Today, the total number of EVs hitting the roads globally accounts for about 2 million, and the numbers keep rising.
The percentage of electric car sales in the global automotive market comprises only 1 percent, according to market intelligence provider LMC Automotive. Furthermore, a study by global management consultancy firm Boston Consulting Group (BCG) finds that battery electric vehicles (BEVs) will not gain serious ground in international markets until 2025, and will account for 14 percent of the global market by 2030.
When looking at Egypt, one of the most voiced concerns over EVs was the lack of existing infrastructure; however, further concerns include security, maintenance and service centers.
EVs in Egypt: What’s the deal?
Egypt is currently gearing up to receive the first batch of used electric cars after Egypt’s Minister of Trade and Industry Tarek Kabil issued a decree allowing their import, provided that they are three years old at a maximum. Electric motorcycles, however, are excluded from the decision of the minister.
50 percent of cars in Egypt are expected to be EVs in 10 years
The price of a new electric car starts from LE700,000, and the used cars that Egypt will import stand at about LE600,000, according to Mohamed Mostafa, CEO of the firm set to import the electric cars to Egypt, Revolta. It costs about LE50 to fully charge the car to drive 300 kilometers, which is generally cheaper than gas.
Kabil explains in a press statement that Egypt has no particular rules to regulate the import of used cars listed in the rules of the provisions of the Import and Export Law; however, an exception is made for electric cars in order to encourage people to use the eco-friendly vehicles. He further added that EVs cost less in terms of charging and maintenance than internal combustion engine cars, namely cars running on gas,.
No customs will be applied on the electric cars, Kabil points out, adding that Egypt is attempting to follow the lead of some European countries, including the United Kingdom (UK), by issuing a decision stipulating that only electric cars will be allowed on the streets by 2040.
Does Egypt have the required infrastructure?
Mostafa tells Business Forward that the first batch of electric cars will arrive in Egypt in June, and by then, the number of charging stations for those vehicles will increase from the current 17 to 65.
Commenting on the objections of the Federation of Egyptian Industries (FEI) to import electric cars citing lack of infrastructure, Mostafa adds that Egypt is not inventing something new. One cannot ask the government, the private sector and investors to hold off operating electric cars due to the lack of infrastructure, according to the CEO, as the cars should be imported first in order for the infrastructure to be built.
“Egypt currently has five electric cars, and the infrastructure and charging stations can cover up to 1,000 electric cars,” Mostafa emphasizes.
“In a matter of two months, we will have seven main cities connected to [Cairo], with the rate of one charging station every 60 kilometers, and that is enough to serve the received batches,” he assures, stressing that the government is rather cooperative.
If the cooperation resumes, about 50 percent of cars in Egypt will be electric in a matter of 10 years, Mostafa says.
Egypt currently has five electric cars, and is ready for 1,000
Concerns regarding electric cars in Egypt
Although Kabil’s decision was met with enthusiasm by Revolta, it was not received with total optimism by other entities.
“The infrastructure does not have to only be charging stations, even though they have to be disseminated all across the country,” head of the FEI’s Transport Division Wael Ammar tells Business Forward, highlighting that it should be known whether the importing company will be the official dealer or not.
Besides the charging stations, Ammar believes that Egypt lacks the trained calibers for servicing and maintaining the cars. “It is a new technology for the entire world and it is expected to have its defects,” he explains. “If a problem related to safety or durability surfaces, usually the manufacturer informs the dealerships around the world with the problem. In the case of electric cars in Egypt, who is the official dealership and what would happen in the case of damages?”
In February, Egypt launched its first electric vehicle charging station, located on the Cairo-Suez highway at the state-owned Wataniya gas station.
Charging the car takes from 30 to 45 minutes. Ammar believes that this requires every household that possesses this car to have a mechanism to charge it. “There are no guarantees and no mechanisms to regulate the electric cars in Egypt,” he states.
Ammar says that Egypt is currently working to encourage the year-long deteriorating auto industry. “We should start by solving other problems before we decide to import electric cars,” he concludes.
Egypt hopes to boost its production and use of renewable energy to 22 percent by 2020 as a part of its sustainable development plan.