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Saudi Arabia, Japan work on EV pilot scheme

Jeddah water tower at night. Saudi Arabia

Japanese firms to help Saudi Electricity Company build fast chargers and trial electric cars

Saudi Arabia is well known for its thriving luxury car market, but the world’s second-largest oil producer is still in no hurry to build spur widespread EV adoption. Indeed, a recent report from Business Insider notes that state-backed oil company Saudi Aramco is more concerned about ride-sharing eating into its market than the rise of EVs – So concerned in fact that the country recently invested US$3.5 billion of its sovereign wealth fund for a 5% stake in the tech giant.

Nevertheless, some early EV initiatives are getting off the ground. January 14 saw the Saudi Electricity Company (SEC) sign a cooperation agreement with 3 Japanese companies to implement the “Electric Car Pilot Project in the Kingdom”.

The agreement was signed by the utility’s executive vice president for engineering and projects Khalid bin Saad Al-Rashed, and officials from Tokyo Electric Power, Nissan Motor and Tecaoca Coco Energy Solutions.

According to the agreement, SEC will cooperate with the three companies to study the operation of EVs in the Kingdom and how they can be adapted to the operational environment.

Under the deal, the parties will develop a fast-charger capable of recharging vehicles within half an hour. Meanwhile Nissan will lend SEC 3 electric cars (ElecTrans presumes either Leafs or the eNV-200 van) and Tecaoca Coco Company will provide the company with 3 fast chargers.

While the pilot is an encouraging move, the state is unlikely to transform itself into an electric leader any time soon, and the Kingdom’s broader position on EVs was perhaps best summarised by Aramco CEO Amin Nasser in remarks last year, when he noted that: “Electric vehicles will continue to grow. They will take good market share, but it will be decades before they shoulder a significant percentage of the energy mix.”


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