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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 19 September 2018

Saudi partners with Nissan and other Japanese firms in EV project

Fast-charger stations will be developed to charge electric vehicles in 30 minutes and Suadi Electric Co will borrow three EVs from Nissan

Nissan's IMx electric concept car is displayed at the 2018 CES in Las Vegas. Saudi Electric Co will partner with the Japanese car maker and others on the kingdom's first electric vehicle project. Steve Marcus/Reuters
Nissan's IMx electric concept car is displayed at the 2018 CES in Las Vegas. Saudi Electric Co will partner with the Japanese car maker and others on the kingdom's first electric vehicle project. Steve Marcus/Reuters

The state-controlled Saudi Electricity Company (SEC) has signed a deal with Japanese Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco), Nissan Motor and Takaoka Toko for the first electric vehicle pilot project in the world's largest oil exporter, it said late on Sunday.

Saudi Arabia is keen to develop its auto industry as part of efforts to diversify the economy beyond oil and has teamed up with Japan's Toyota Motor to conduct studies for that.

Tighter global emissions regulations are forcing automakers worldwide to shift to EVs, and some are tying up to share the high costs of developing batteries for them.

Under the agreement, fast-charger stations will be developed to charge EVs in 30 minutes. SEC will borrow three EVs from Nissan while Tepco and Takaoka Toko will provide three fast chargers. SEC did not give a time frame for the plan.

Such a move is part of the company's strategy to reduce reliance on oil and cut emissions, SEC said. State oil major Saudi Aramco is also working on technologies to make vehicles more efficient.

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Its chief executive Amin Nasser said in November improved efficiency would better sustain production in the long term with renewables hopefully growing and contributing to meeting rising demand which will require different sources of energy.

Mr Nasser told CNBC in October that EVs will take a good market share but it will be decades before they have a significant percentage of the energy mix.

Saudi Arabia hosted on Sunday a Saudi-Japanese business forum where agreements have been signed with companies including Saline Water Conversion Corporation and New Energy and Industrial Technology Development.

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