Prime Minister Mustafa Madbouly last week handed over the keys to the first batch of beneficiaries who had applied to replace their old vehicles with new natural gas powered cars under Egypt’s Go Green initiative.
The initiative, announced in July 2020 and coming into force in January 2021, received more than 70,000 applications from car-owners aiming to benefit from scrapping their old vehicles (more than 20 years old) and getting new ones under an installment system of up to 10 years and at an interest rate of three per cent.
Tarek Awad, spokesman for the Ministry of Finance’s Old Car Replacement Fund, said that the Fund grants a green incentive to those benefiting from the initiative in the form of a deduction of 10 per cent of the value of a new car to a maximum of LE22,000 for private vehicles and of 22 per cent for taxis to a maximum of LE45,000.
He added that the number of applicants wanting to be part of the initiative had been larger than expected in the first few months and that about 80 per cent of them were the owners of private cars, with taxis constituting about 20 per cent.
According to the Go Green website, the prices of cars that run on a dual-fuel system (natural gas and petrol) and participating in the initiative currently range from LE146,000 to LE279,000, with seven models available to choose from.
People wanting to participate in the programme can apply at www.gogreenmasr.com. Cars included in the programme need to be manufactured in 2001 or before. Applicants must be at least 21 years old and no more than 55 years old with valid driver’s licences. An applicant must pay the amount due on the car with proof of the financial ability to pay. The repayment period is up to 120 months, including a maximum grace period of three months.
Alaa Al-Sabaa, a member of the Automobile Division of the Egyptian Federation of Chambers of Commerce, said the initiative to replace old cars and convert them to work with dual fuel or natural gas was a good step forwards and would contribute to improving sales in the car market and attracting new investments to the sector.
“The initiative has lifted the burden from the shoulders of old car-owners by providing a new car running on natural gas that saves 50 per cent of the cost of running on petrol, with installments of up to 10 years at an interest rate that does not exceed three per cent annually,” he said.
The initiative also bears the cost of converting a vehicle to run on dual fuel, which ranges from LE8,000 to LE10,000.
Al-Sabaa said the initiative would help to increase the productivity of Egyptian car factories and would be reflected in an increase in sales as well as a reduction of harmful emissions to the environment.
“We need to support the auto industry in Egypt, as we have 18 plants to assemble cars, of which only eight work in a stable manner to assemble about 60,000 cars annually,” he stated.
Al-Sabaa said that the auto plants produced about 40 per cent of the components used and that this could be upped to 60 per cent or more. He added that there were seven car companies participating in the Go Green initiative, but that this number is expected to double by the end of this year as the initiative grows and the number of natural gas stations increases.
Minister of Petroleum Tarek Al-Molla said that the ministry sought to provide a sufficient number of stations and centres for the supply and maintenance of cars running on natural gas and to spread these across all governorates to meet the needs of people benefiting from the initiative.
According to the Ministry of Petroleum and Mineral Resources, the number of natural gas stations has reached more than 220 nationwide, in addition to 86 centres for converting cars to work with natural gas and 12 for testing natural gas cylinders. The number of cars converted to run on natural gas has reached more than 335,000. The ministry plans to increase the number of natural gas stations to 325 by the end of 2021.
The ministry also announced on Saturday that it had launched the first mobile station to supply cars with compressed natural gas. These mobile stations can bring the service to areas without natural gas networks and can help to meet areas of seasonal consumption such as tourist areas and resorts as well as in cases of emergency or the maintenance of stations and networks.
They can transport and store up to 5,000 cubic metres of gas, allowing them to be used in industrial and commercial facilities, it said.
In March, the ministry launched the first electronic application on a mobile phone showing the locations of natural gas stations and conversion centres.
*A version of this article appears in print in the 15 April, 2021 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly