Egypt will grant licenses to new vehicles only if they can operate on the bi-fuel system, President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi said during the inauguration of a housing project in Cairo on Sunday.
“New gasoline vehicles will not be licensed [unless they can operate on natural] gas,” the president said, explaining that the move aims to preserve the environment and make use of the country’s plentiful natural gas production.
Egypt is looking to rely more on cheaper, cleaner energy sources and to increase the amount of power generated from renewables to 20 percent by 2022 and 42 percent by 2035.
The country has adopted a plan to expand the use of natural gas as vehicle fuel and encourage motorists to convert their cars to the bi-fuel system, which can run on both natural gas and gasoline.
Over the past six years, 118,000 vehicles have been converted to the bi-fuel system, bringing the total number of converted vehicles in the country to 322,000, the oil ministry said last month.
Egypt is also planning to replace as many as 1.3 million old private cars and 50,000 taxis manufactured over 20 years ago, as well as convert hundreds of thousands of other vehicles to gas-powered models at a total estimated cost of EGP 320 billion (approx $20 billion), Trade and Industry Minister Nevine El- Gamea said at the same event on Sunday.
The plan is aimed at reducing fuel imports, lowering pollution from harmful emissions, ensuring the safety of drivers and passengers and making use of unexploited auto factories.
Under the scheme, the government aims to convert 147,000 gasoline-powered taxis and microbuses to natural gas over three years, and replace another 240,000 diesel-powered microbuses with new natural gas vehicles over four years, the minister said. A total of 366 natural gas fueling stations are planned to be set up nationwide under the plan, she said.
The state is also looking to reduce the cost of fuel consumption, she added.
El-Sisi said the government will offer the owners of obsolete cars, whether private cars, taxicabs or microbuses, financing programs to convert their vehicles to operate on natural gas, which should halve their expenses.
“To those who have rickety cars that are 25 years old and cost hefty expenses, either for repair or fuel, we can help you obtain a loan at the lowest possible cost,” he said, calling on authorities to offer the owners of obsolete car low-interest loans.
He said that converting vehicles to natural gas “will cut fuel consumption by half.”
El-Sisi said that converting 1 million vehicles to operate on natural gas would cost around EGP 8 billion.