Egypt is joining the Middle East's push to adopt electric cars with a state-owned company contracted to build affordable vehicles with a Chinese firm, taking advantage of the country's renewable energy boom to power them.
Authorities are in contact with three potential companies as they seek a partner for El Nasr Automotive Manufacturing on the project that will see 2 billion Egyptian pounds ($127 million) invested, Public Enterprise Minister Hisham Tawfik said in an interview, without giving names. Production is set to begin in 2023, with output increasing to an annual 20,000 units over three years.
Mr Tawfik said Egypt’s electric model, to be named either E70 or A70, will sell for about $20,000, with half of buyers probably taxi or Uber drivers. That is roughly the same price as Europe’s cheapest EV, Renault’s Dacia Spring, which is made in China.
The private sector will also be offered a 40 per cent role in a new company established to operate pay-to-use charging stations, with 10 per cent being taken by El Nasr and the remaining half by a “state entity”, Mr Tawfik said, without elaborating. The first wave of 3,000 charging points will be around the cities of Cairo and Alexandria before they are introduced elsewhere.
“Egypt now produces all kinds of clean energy,” the minister said, citing the country’s sizeable wind and solar power projects. “This means we have the infrastructure to leap into the future with the automotive industry.”
It is an ambitious undertaking for the Arab world’s most populous nation of more than 100 million, where Mr Tawfik estimates only about 350 electric cars are currently plying the busy streets. That is a tiny fraction of the roughly five million private cars registered, although financial incentives offered to owners of standard cars to convert them to natural gas will also be extended to EVs to encourage purchases.
The picture is similar in the broader Middle East region, much of which relies on oil wealth, where the adoption of EVs has been dwarfed by their growth in China, the US and Europe. It is beginning to change, though, with Saudi Arabia planning to manufacture its own.
Brightskies, an Egyptian company, has also signed a deal with state-owned Engineering Automotive Manufacturing to develop and manufacture electric buses and minibuses from 2022, according to Mr Tawfik. And Egypt will look at making hydrogen-powered EVs in the longer term, he said.
The initiatives come as Egypt prepares to host the Cop27 climate summit in the Red Sea resort of Sharm El Sheikh next year and ramps up its production of green energy. About 8.6 per cent of the North African nation’s electricity comes from renewables, with a target of 20 per cent by 2022 and more than double that by 2035.
El Nasr dates back to the 1960s and once assembled local versions of Fiats, among other models. It halted production in 2009, only to be reopened a few years later.