General Motors, the biggest US car maker, will market more of its electric vehicle product line in the Middle East and Africa. The company expects strong sales in the region despite ensuing trade tensions between Washington and China that have crimped growth and consumer demand globally.
The Detroit car maker's business was up by nearly 3 per cent in the third quarter and it is aiming to achieve a volume growth of more than 2.5 per cent by the end of this year in the region.
"As we are finishing this year, we actually feel pretty good momentum. Saudi Arabia is up double digits from the volume stand point … [while] Kuwait is up just under double digits," John Roth, president and managing director of GM Africa and Middle East, told The National.
Saudi Arabia, the most populated Arabian Gulf country, was GM's key market last year, where the company recorded almost half of its regional sales. Kuwait accounted for 19 per cent of sales and the UAE 15 per cent.
GM plans to roll out 20 new electric vehicle models globally by 2023 and intends to market the product line in the UAE. The company has sold more than 100 of Chevrolet’s first electric vehicle – Bolt EV – in the UAE since August 2018.
Bolt EV, which can run up to 520 kilometres on a single charge is used by Dubai Police, as part of the UAE plan to reduce carbon emissions by 15 per cent by 2020. With more than 200 charging stations in Dubai, the market is ripe for electric vehicles, said Mr Roth.
“We see an all-electric future and GM is making heavy investments in this segment. But EV is a new technology and it will take some time for people to understand … like where should they charge or how should they take care of vehicles?”
The share of electric vehicles in global car sales is forecast to rise to 2.5 per cent by 2020 from 1 per cent in 2017, according to the Bank of America Merrill Lynch, which forecasts that by 2050 EVs will constitute 90 per cent of sales.
In terms of market share, Egypt is the best performing market for the company in the Middle East and Africa, where Mr Roth estimates the company retains 20 per cent of the market.