By Daniel McMurray | Chief Catalyst for Global EVRT
This is the question that Global EVRT’s groundbreaking eMobility Forum Oman seeks to consider on January 20 as it brings together key leaders, influencers, and decision-makers from business, industry, and government to accelerate the transition to electric mobility.
The Big Mobility Shift
The way we move people and products from place to place is undergoing the most profound transformation since the invention of the steam engine and the automobile. The world is rapidly accelerating the transition to a clean, smart, electric mobility future, and the pace of change is truly breathtaking.
The days of the internal combustion engine are decreasing rapidly as a disruptive wave of new transport technologies is fundamentally transforming the way cities, citizens, and businesses move. It is a paradigm shift unleashing radically new business models with far-reaching implications for consumers, companies, government, and society.
A growing number of countries — including China, Costa Rica, Germany, France, Ireland, Scotland, Norway, Israel, Netherlands, Denmark, and Taiwan — have already committed to banning the sale of fossil fuel powered vehicles by 2040. Total lifetime running costs for electric cars (including purchase, insurance, registration, fuel, maintenance and repairs) are already lower than conventional vehicles in most countries, and with projections from the likes of Bloomberg New Energy Finance indicating that even up-front costs of plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) are likely to be cheaper than ICE vehicles within 10 years, the writing is on the wall.
But What Does the Future Hold for Oil-Rich Countries?
Countries that have traditionally generated the bulk of their GDP from a natural abundance of oil and fossil fuels are not immune from this seismic global shift.
We know that electric vehicles already offer substantial environmental and low-carbon emission benefits to help tackle climate change.
But do the economic drivers make sense in states with low and heavily subsidised consumer prices for oil?
The UAE, Norway, Qatar, Canada, and others have recognised the inevitability of this global trend and are rapidly making the changes to transport policy, regulation, physical and digital infrastructure, urban planning, and citizen and multi-stakeholder engagement required to reap the benefits of electric mobility.
But what of other states whose GDP has traditionally been generated from oil, gas, and coal?
The Sultanate of Oman: a Case Study
The Sultanate of Oman faces many regulatory challenges and sees similar emerging macro trends as the rest of the globe — in addition to additional geographic hurdles, consumer preferences, current availability and variety of electric vehicles, and uncertainty regarding the economics, TCO, leasing options, and business case.
But the opportunities presented by an accelerated shift to electric mobility are also great.
Currently, more than 5,000 Omani citizens use government-backed fuel subsidy cards to offset the price of fuel. The National Subsidy System was introduced to help needy Omanis who earn a total income of less than OMR600 a month. Under the conditions of the scheme, Omanis who enroll themselves for this scheme can purchase 200 litres of M91 fuel a month at 180 baisa a litre.
But a greater uptake of electric vehicles and improved low-carbon public transport options could have even greater impact.
Although wide-scale adoption of plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) in Oman and the number of electric vehicles in country currently lag other markets, the Sultanate will not be immune from these forces of change for long.
By accelerating the transition to electric mobility, Oman can reap significant benefits, including helping the country achieve its SOLS 2040 mission to become a smart, innovative, and technologically advanced global logistics hub. It could help the country tackle the challenges of climate change and improve air quality. It could help the country move beyond oil and improve the access, range, environmental footprint, and cost effectiveness of public mobility.
The shift to electric mobility in Oman, like everywhere else, is ultimately inevitable.
The newly released research report from the Authority for Electricity Regulation (AER) and E3 noted that whilst PEVs currently carry a higher upfront cost than conventional vehicles, prices are dropping rapidly and new models — including SUVs — are shortly coming onto the market. The report also found that:
- Even at cost-reflective electricity prices, PEVs are expected to have lower fuel and maintenance costs relative to gasoline/diesel vehicles and are likely to be attractive to drivers on an economic basis;
- If PEVs are encouraged to charge during off-peak periods, there could be benefits to all electricity ratepayers through enhanced efficiency in the use of the electricity networks; and
- PEVs can reduce carbon dioxide emissions, improve local air quality, and reduce noise pollution.
The Government of Oman has some ambitious goals for economic diversification to wean the country off its dependence on oil. The SOLS 2040 goals for instance, aim to make the country a leading global hub for smart, connected logistics — and electric and autonomous mobility will need to be part of this plan.
So, how can Oman’s government, and business and industry leaders — as well as Omani consumers, of course — take full advantage of the benefits offered by this once-in-a-generation transformation of the way we move? What are the regulatory roadblocks, business barriers, and cultural challenges that need to be addressed in order to move the country forward on electric mobility?
To answer this question, Global EVRT is convening the eMobility Forum Oman, a unique, high-level, one-day event, drawing together experts, influencers, decision-makers, and practitioners from business, government, industry, and civil society to help shape the future of electric mobility in the country.
With expert speakers from the Authority for Electricity Regulation, Asyad, Nama Group, Riyada, Impact Integrated, Enel Foundation, General Motors, Renault, GUTech, YallaMotor, Volt, and many more, don’t miss your chance to be part of the conversation that is set to reshape the mobility landscape in Oman.
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