Falling prices, longer battery life buoy hopes for e-vehicle adoption in Oman

A slate of new technological developments in the Electric Vehicles (EV) industry globally has increased prospects for EV sales in the Sultanate, with the electricity regulator pledging efforts to smooth the way for their speedy adoption domestically.
According to Qais bin Saud al Zakwani (pictured), Executive Director of the Authority for Electricity Regulation (AER), a number of “barriers” that had dampened the appetite for the embrace of Electric Vehicles in the Sultanate have eased over the past year. These hurdles have typically included Electric Vehicle sizes, range, battery capacity, and cost premiums, among other factors. Added to this list of impediments was the lack of public charging infrastructure, limited customer awareness and enthusiasm, and lack of dealer incentives generally available in other jurisdictions.
A year since the publication of a landmark report on the potential for EV adoption in Oman, the outlook has considerably brightened, he said. “There have been several key developments over the 12 months that have changed our perspective on the urgency of ensuring the readiness of our framework for EV adoption,” the Executive Director noted. “There have been developments in battery technology, in battery life, standards, the range of vehicles, charging facilities and the speed of charging.”
The official made the comments at the start of a day-long engagement with key stakeholders, notably the various supply and distribution utilities that are subsidiaries of Nama Group (formerly The Electricity Holding Company), relevant ministries and government agencies, and automotive distributors. The regulator, said Al Zakwani, will play a robust role in paving the way for the early adoption of Electric Vehicles in Oman. “I’m pleased to note, from the regulator’s perspective, and more specifically with regard to the adoption of EVs, the Authority is adopting an extremely light-handed approach to regulation. We are not getting involved, at this juncture, in the pricing, in the locations (of the charging infra), in the granularity of issues that could be stumbling blocks in the adoption of EV. But, having said that, we are in no way compromising safety and security of the general public and the electricity network,” he stressed.
Among the factors that have buoyed prospects for the early roll-out of EVs is the global launch of new SUV models that have significant appeal for the Omani market, he said. Also of significance is continuing development of larger-capacity batteries offering a mileage ranging from 350 – 450 km per charge – an increase that dramatically addresses the ‘range anxiety’ issue, he said.
“We also expect the cost premiums to ease slowly – and perhaps disappear by 2022-23 – making EVs more attractive compared to internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles.”
Enthusiasm for EV adoption in Oman remains good, according to the official, noting however the single biggest barrier remains the upfront capex cost.
As part of its engagement with various stakeholders, the Authority will also be assessing the needs of dealers, said Al Zakwani. “We will be talking to dealers on, among other things, what would be a price parity that would be required for them to start importing EVs into the market and making them available to general public.”
Furthermore, the Authority will continue to collaborate with the Ministry of Transport, Ministry of Commerce and Industry (MoCI) and other government institutions to ensure a “seamless process” in supporting EV penetration in Oman.
“Our commitment to the general public is that we will continue to actively look at the development of the EV market in Oman. We will be discussing with regard to network planning with the distribution and supply licensees to ensure they are ready to integrate EV charging stations within their networks, and they also consider those issues when it comes to local demand planning. We will also look at issues to do with cybersecurity, impact on local networks, and the other opportunities that DC fast chargers could potentially have without the need for reinforcements.”
“We have also had discussions with institutions such as MoCI to ensure that standards and spec for charging facilities, the home facilities, and other charging devices are in place and ready. We are looking to create an environment to incentivise private sector investment in these charging stations, and not primarily depend on public funds to invest in such infrastructure,” he added.