The electric cars and the technology achieved by the largest companies in the automotive industry have been able to impose themselves on the whole world and revolutionise the car market. The world’s largest companies are aiming to increase their production of electric cars in preparation for their gradual deployment in world markets and the disposal of traditional cars that use fossil fuel. Germany is the keenest to produce and spread electric cars in the streets to achieve its policy to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide derived from the use of fuel.
In turn, the Egyptian state is also seeking to keep pace with the global trend and the drift toward the use of electrical energy and imported electric cars from Europe exempted from customs. Moreover, the Council of Ministers announced the exemption of hybrid cars from taxes when imported from Europe starting from January 2019. The exemption includes second-hand cars.
President Abdel Fattah al- Sisi, has issued decree No 419 for the year 2018 on the tariff, with the introduction of an international item for cars that operate an electric motor, to encourage their use with exemption from customs tax in order to stimulate the use of energy.
But the question is: is Egypt ready to match the world’s countries and deploy electric cars at the moment? There are those who completely refuse the entry of electric cars into Egypt without prior planning, and some of them believe that once deployed in Egypt, the infrastructure will be made available.
Hassan El-Desouki, chairperson of Darshal Company, a specialist in the manufacture of electric cars and chargers, said that the future of electric cars in Egypt is very dark and blurry because Egypt is not ready for the spread of electric cars at the present time due to the absence of unified laws and regulations to import these kinds of cars.
He added that there is no infrastructure or charging stations, noting that 100 or 200 stations are not enough. “Electric cars cannot be used in Egypt as their batteries can only last for 100 km using 2015 technology. Consumers will pay EGP 300,000-400,000 in a limited-use car,” he explained.
El-Desouki said that the spread of electric cars will still take a lot of time and planning to provide the necessary infrastructure, and to eliminate the randomness in the planning currently in place.
He pointed out that there is no unified law regulating the relationship of the distributor to the consumer, without specifying who will import the cars. He warned that this could lead to fraud, and urged the need for examining these cars before arrival to ensure their safety. He finally noted that there are no maintenance centres in Egypt. “Where is the Consumer Protection Authority here?” he wondered.
As for the hybrid cars, El-Desouki refuses to use them in Egypt, as he believes that they do not fit with the nature of the Egyptian market, since they do not save gasoline because the use of electricity is very minor.
Mourad Sedky, a mechanical engineer and car expert, agreed, saying that the government’s decision to exempt used hybrid cars from customs is premature and lacks planning. “If we assume that a three-year-old hybrid car was imported into Egypt. Why would you buy a car that will soon need a battery change that costs EGP 50,000?”
He believes that this decision represents the disposal of the world’s waste by placing it in our country. He pointed out that the introduction of electric cars and hybrids into Egypt requires a complete strategy from the state, in contrast to the current partial plan.
Sedky added that the state should obligate importers of electric cars and hybrids to provide maintenance and spare parts for them, like any other car that the customer buys. He noted that it makes no sense to leave people to drive cars without providing solutions in the event of a malfunction in the car or the need for spare parts, because this represents a significant loss for car customers in Egypt.
He linked the success of electric cars in Egypt with a strong tendency from the state to give incentives when buying these types of cars that make them more advantageous, thus transforming it into a win-win equation for the state and the citizen, such as making the procedures for licensing cheaper.
The expert says that the trend towards the use of hybrid and electric cars in Egypt will be valuable only if the price of litres of gasoline matches their countries of origin, which is three to four folds the current price in Egypt.
In conclusion, he believes that the customer’s intention to buy an electric or used hybrid car is for two reasons:
First: social Integrity, which has no impact on the Egyptian economy or the environment.
Second: Customers’ lack of awareness of the operational costs when buying used cars.
On the other hand there are those who support the spread of electric cars in Egypt at the moment, such as Raafat Masrouga, honorary head of the Automotive Marketing Information Council (AMIC) and former president of the Engineering Automotive Manufacturing Company, who believes that the weakness of the infrastructure and the readiness of the state do not represent an obstacle to the spread of electric cars in Egypt, explaining that once cars enter Egypt, recharge stations will spread.
He added that charging electric cars is not a problem, as they can be recharged by traditional sockets, hence it will not be a problem. In major cities, recharge stations will be established, while on highways, gas stations will provide recharge spots for electric cars, he said.
He said that once electric cars spread in Egypt, all the pieces will fall into place. “The Egyptian people are smart and can quickly adapt,” he stressed.
Moreover, he said that importers of electric cars are not necessarily forced to import spare parts for cars, especially in Egypt, which is characterised by its smart people who are capable of creating jobs and opening new fields to the market. He explained that once the electric cars spread in Egypt new traders will emerge.
In terms of hybrid cars, Masrouga said they do not represent the future and will soon fade away as technology moves in the direction of fully electric cars.
He added that the decision of the state to abolish the customs on used hybrids cars imported from Europe is one step which requires raising citizens’ awareness of electric cars.
Furthermore, he predicted that electric cars in the Egyptian street will spread by 2025, while in 2040 it will spread further to take over the Egyptian street by 70%.
Mohamed Mostafa, the founder and president of Revolta Egypt, agreed, saying that Egypt is ready for electric cars, given the high price of gasoline. He noted that there are a few recharge stations in different governorates as electric cars have become a reality.
Mostafa added that the number of electric cars reached 100 last year, while pre-orders reached 500 in the last quarter of 2018.
He said he is not a supporter of hybrids and does not favour them, pointing out that it is a transitional period before the spread of electric cars, but the disadvantages are many, including that they do not really save fuel as many people think.
He called on the state to provide the advantages that stimulate the possession of electric cars, and expected electric cars to spread in Egypt by 2040.