Electric vehicles gain traction in Jordan as petrol prices rise

AMMAN, Jordan: Electric vehicle sales are surging in Jordan, a trend drivers and showrooms attribute to high petrol prices more than any concerns about air pollution and climate change.

Boosted by low import taxes, especially affordable Chinese-made models have become a common sight on the streets of Amman and the kingdom’s desert highways.

Tesla owner Shadi Zatari, 43, says he no longer worries about pump prices since he plugs in his car overnight at home, allowing him to drive 400 kilometres (250 miles) on a single charge.

“The main goal of buying an electric car is definitely saving money,” said the Amman-based merchant and father of three. “I saved almost two thirds of what I used to spend on gasoline.”

With Octane 90 unleaded petrol selling at about $1.40 per litre, Zatari said he used to spend about 120 dinars ($170) on fuel per month.

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He has slashed this to 40 dinars — the average rise in his monthly electricity bill — and is able to drive longer distances at no additional cost.

Zatari’s car is one of 60,000 EVs now registered in Jordan — still just a fraction of the total 2.2 million registered vehicles, but the fastest-growing segment.

The number of EVs on Jordan’s roads rose 103 percent by the end of July from the same period last year.

The rise was 167 percent for all of 2022 — a year that also saw imports of petrol and diesel powered cars drop 27 percent and hybrid vehicle imports fall almost 25 percent.

Driven by savings
EVs have become a common sight, especially China’s Changan Eado EV and E-Star, and models sold by BYD, Dongfeng and MG.

Also popular are the South Korean-made Hyundai Ioniq 5 and Kona and Kia’s Niro, as well as Japan’s Nissan Leaf and Sylphy, Germany’s Volkswagen ID4 and Italy’s Fiat 500.

“There is currently a great demand for electric cars,” said Hashim Al-Zayyat, director of Al-Zayyat Car Trading.

“The main reason is the high price of gasoline in Jordan, it is a burden with the high cost of living.”

Jordan is facing tough economic times, with an unemployment rate of 22.6 percent last year, according to the International Monetary Fund, and youth unemployment around 50 percent.

Public debt exceeded 100 percent of GDP in the small and resource-poor country, which was hit hard by the Covid pandemic and the costs of hosting a large number of Syrian refugees.

The kingdom is now watching with high concern as Israel’s war with Hamas militants flares in Gaza, the deadliest ever conflict in the Palestinian territory.

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