The first car brand in Saudi Arabia: The Middle East is now discovering electric cars for itself

The first car brand in Saudi Arabia
The Middle East is now discovering electric cars for itself

Diesel and gasoline are by no means rare or expensive in the Middle East, and almost no electric cars have yet been sold there. But now the region is slowly starting to move into the electric age. The new Saudi Arabian automaker Ceer could be in the lead.

In the Middle East, the electrification of automobile transport begins. The first infrastructure projects and funding programs were announced. And the first regional car brand is about to launch in Saudi Arabia.

In early November, Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund PIF and Taiwanese contract manufacturer Foxconn announced the joint establishment of the Ceer car brand. From 2025, the first regional manufacturer should sell e-mobiles in the so-called MENA region, i.e. in the Middle East and North Africa. Details on models and parts are not yet known. The new brand is intended to serve the still low but growing demand for electric cars locally.

The e-market is still small but growing

So far, e-mobiles are still being sold in homeopathic quantities in the Middle East. But the market is growing mainly in the centers. According to the management consulting company Inovev, Abu Dhabi already has 2,000 charging stations in its network, while Dubai has 200. Egypt wants to establish around 3,000 charging stations together with the Chinese car manufacturer Dongfeng. In addition, First Nations announced funding programs and ambitious CO2 targets for transport. Morocco, for example, plans to reduce energy consumption in transport by 23 percent by 2030. Last but not least, by using solar energy, which can be easily produced throughout the region.

Until now, Toyota has been the market leader in the region with its SUVs and mid-range sedans. Around 29 percent of all new cars in the Middle East and North Africa come from the Japanese brand. Hyundai-Kia and Renault-Nissan follow with almost 20 percent. Chinese manufacturers are on the rise with a market share of a good 12 percent – double that of Stellantis Group, which is traditionally strong in the region. So far, German manufacturers have hardly played a role in the region outside of the luxury market.

In the case of Germany, the transition to e-mobility in the Arab region could also play a role beyond market opportunities for e-car manufacturers. In particular, the sun-drenched Arabian Peninsula is considered a possible location for the production of e-fuels, synthetic fuels produced using solar energy. Local electrification of the transport sector would potentially limit the availability of green energy for fuel production.

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