Saudi Arabia poised for EV boom

Saudi Arabia is set to see strong growth in EVs and hybrid cars over the coming years.  A new study by consultants AlixPartners highlights Saudi Arabia’s significant growth potential for battery-electric vehicles (BEVs) in particular, while the US and European markets show signs of stagnation. This trend positions Saudi Arabia as a key player in the global EV market, with strong consumer interest.

According to the 2024 International Electric Vehicle Consumer-Sentiment Survey, 71% of Saudi Arabian drivers are either “very” or “moderately” likely to purchase a BEV this year. This figure is expected to rise to 85% by 2035, far outpacing the current BEV purchase intentions in the US and Europe, which stand between 35% and 43%​​​​.

Market Drivers and Consumer Sentiment

The study involved 10,000 respondents from 10 markets, representing over 80% of global BEV sales. It examined factors such as general interest in BEVs and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs), price sensitivity, and brand awareness.

In Saudi Arabia, concerns about cost and charging infrastructure are less prevalent compared to global averages. Instead, the survey suggests that Saudi consumers are more focused on safety, vehicle complexity, and aftermarket support. This unique consumer behavior suggests a robust market ready for rapid EV adoption​​.

The Role of Chinese Brands

The survey revealed that Saudi consumers have a high level of awareness regarding Chinese BEV brands, with 93% of respondents familiar with at least one Chinese manufacturer. Brands like BYD lead the pack. This contrasts sharply with international figures, where awareness of Chinese brands ranges from 47% to 71%​​.

Chinese brands like BYD are already recognised more widely in KSA than in many other countries.

Industry Implications

Alessandro Missaglia, Partner and Managing Director at AlixPartners, noted the dual appeal of BEVs and PHEVs among Saudi consumers. While BEVs are gaining traction, PHEVs are seen as a viable alternative for those concerned about range and charging flexibility. This trend mirrors consumer behavior in the US and Europe, where PHEVs are also popular due to their extended range and charging convenience​​.

He commented: “In Saudi Arabia, we’re witnessing a parallel trend to the USA and Europe, where BEV-intentioned buyers are increasingly considering PHEVs as viable alternatives. This shift reflects consumers’ desires to address immediate needs while mitigating charging and range concerns. As traditional automakers, suppliers, and dealers adapt to this transition, they face significant challenges in balancing present and future demands.”

The upcoming production of Lucid and Ceer EVs in Saudi Arabia is expected to further shift consumer preferences and increase brand competition. This production surge is likely to enhance local brand awareness and drive market dynamics, presenting opportunities and challenges for both international and domestic manufacturers​​.

Future Outlook

Saudi Arabia’s burgeoning interest in EVs aligns with the country’s broader economic and environmental goals. As the Kingdom continues to diversify its economy away from oil dependence, the EV market offers a promising avenue for sustainable growth. The government’s supportive policies and investment in EV infrastructure are likely to accelerate this transition.

As with so many areas of life in the Kingdom, it is clear that we can expect rapid change on our roads.

The Lucid production facility in Saudi Arabia. 

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