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EV imports rise in Saudi Arabia, but only to 779 cars

Robots on the production line of an EV factory in Guangzhou, China. Saudi Arabia has yet to open its first EV manufacturing facility Mark Andrews/Alamy Live News via Reuters
Robots on the production line of an EV factory in Guangzhou, China. Saudi Arabia has yet to open its first EV manufacturing facility
  • 210 EVs imported in 2022
  • Target to make 500,000 a year
  • PIF’s Saudi factories yet to open

Saudi imports of electric vehicles rose sharply in 2023 – but to a total of just 779 EVs, despite government hopes that it can become a green economy leader through the manufacture and use of electric cars.

The kingdom imported only 210 EVs in 2022, showing the mountain it has to climb to realise ambitions set out in its Vision 2030 economic transformation plan. 

The total value of the 2023 imports was SAR397 million ($106 million), reported the business daily Al-Eqtisadiah. The cars came mainly from the United States, Germany and China.

There are currently no domestic EV manufacturers, despite plans to produce 500,000 units a year for export and domestic use by 2030. But two factories could start operations soon. 

Ceer, a joint venture between Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund and Taiwan’s Foxconn, said last November it was building a factory in King Abdullah Economic City. Al-Eqtisadiah reported that Ceer’s Saudi EV could begin production in 2025. 

PIF, the main engine of the country’s development plans, owns 60 percent of US-based EV manufacturer Lucid. Its factory, also in King Abdullah Economic City, is not yet up and running. 

The UAE leads the Gulf in EV use, with more than 28,000 registered vehicles in 2023. 

Total Saudi car sales rose 17 percent in 2023 to 729,466 units in a population of over 32 million, according to market researcher Focus2Move. 

Global sales of fully electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles rose 12 percent in March versus the same month in 2023, market research firm Rho Motion said. 

But Saudi Arabia had only 104 battery charging stations in 2023, according to Electromaps. 

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