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From fuel to hybrid cars: Public concerns

The owners of older fuel-powered cars have expressed concerns about the new Go Green initiative that aims to replace old cars with new hybrid ones

Ahmed Morsy , Friday 26 Mar 2021
From fuel to hybrid cars
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Owners of fuel-powered cars wishing to replace their old cars with new hybrid ones as part of the first phase of the Go Green presidential initiative have been allowed to submit their requests online. 

Since the initiative was launched two months ago, it has gone through various stages from declaring the initiative’s conditions, launching its registration website at www.gogreenmasr.com, introducing more conditions, updating its website, and eventually altering one of the conditions that had been in dispute.

Among the initiative’s conditions are that the older car should be not less than 20 years old, have a valid licence registered in the name of the person wanting the replacement, have an owner aged between 21 and 65 years old, and have been owned by its present owner for not less than three years, recently reduced to two years upon complaints from applicants, from the announcement of the initiative.

As compensation for the old vehicle, which will be scrapped, the cabinet has announced a 10 per cent green incentive from the total cost of a new hybrid car to a maximum of LE22,000 for private cars and 20 per cent of the total cost of a new hybrid taxi to a maximum of LE45,000. 

The incentive is paid directly by the Finance Ministry to a local car manufacturer as a cash deposit in case the applicant has chosen to pay by installments or as a lump sum to be deducted from the total value of the new car.

The initiative’s first phase offers seven models of cars with prices ranging from LE145,000 to LE279,000 for private cars and LE129,000 to LE256,000 for taxis. The seven models provided by the initiative, launched as part of the National Sustainable Development Strategy Egypt 2030, are locally assembled vehicles with 45 per cent local components.

The installments are to be paid over a three-to-10-year period at a three per cent interest rate ranging from LE1,800 to LE5,100 for cars, depending on the number of installment years, and from LE1,700 to LE4,700 for taxis.

Though applicants that spoke to Al-Ahram Weekly were enthusiastic about the scheme, they still had concerns regarding procedures and conditions.

Car owner Arafa Al-Khatib said that the terms of the initiative had changed from what they were when they were announced by the minister of trade and industry in January. “The conditions relating to the old car’s ownership were not there when the initiative was first announced,” he said.

According to Al-Khatib, some conditions like the high monthly installments should be cancelled, as the owners of old cars are unlikely to be rich.

Back in January when Nevine Gamea, the trade and industry minister, was appearing on TV talk shows to promote the Go Green initiative she did not mention the conditions relating to the duration of ownership of the old cars. She also said that the monthly installments would start from LE1,500.

Mohamed Fathi, who applied for a new car on the site in February, said he was confused and could not follow up what had happened with his application as the website and the process of application had changed.

“At first, we used to log in using the national ID and a password of our own, but after the updating of the Website I can no longer reach my request page as we need the request number to log in, which I haven’t saved. That led me to the hotline number to inquire about my request, but they never answer,” Fathi said, adding that he had not even been able to apply for a new request.

The website should be more reliable, as it is down much of the time, he said. The number of employees dealing with the project hotline should also be increased as callers could wait up to 30 minutes for someone to answer.

Ahmed Abul-Azm said that initially a condition was that the car licence should be valid and registered in the owner’s name as a way of defeating fraud. “So, why are they now stipulating that the applicant must have owned the car for two or three years at least,” he asked.

After thousands of people applied online, Minister of Finance Mohamed Maait introduced the three-year-old ownership condition in early March and the monthly instalment packages. A few days later on 20 March, Maait announced reducing the condition to two years “in response to requests by many people who bought their cars less than three years ago.”

Maait said that the number of applications submitted online by 18 March for replacing old vehicles with new hybrid ones had reached 59,365.

He said that the website had been updated in March by providing it with more interactive mechanisms, adding that it had also been integrated with the online system of the Central Traffic Department that examines the data of applicants. The finance minister had provided a hotline, 15707, for inquiries and follow-up, he said.

 “I applied to replace my old car following the announcement of the initiative in January before the three-year ownership condition. Though they have reduced the condition to two years, I still believe it is crippling,” car owner Mohamed Sayed said.

Sayed, who bought a used car less than two years ago, said his dream was to upgrade and replace his old car with a newer but used one. It looked as if this would be possible when the initiative was first announced, as “I imagined that I could own a new hybrid one.”

“But now, I can neither benefit from the initiative nor sell my old car in the used car market because no one accepts buying it for the same conditions that are hindering me from getting a new hybrid one,” Sayed said.

Islam Mohamed echoed the same concerns from another angle, saying that his family owned an old car more than seven years ago that had been registered under his father’s name. His father passed away last year, and the car’s licence was then registered under his name with the same plates and data. But Mohamed still cannot benefit from the initiative because he does not meet the two-year ownership condition.

Car owner Manal Bartela proposes to include stolen cars in the initiative. “I hope they study this idea as long as the stolen car’s license qualifies it to be replaced. It is nobody’s fault if the stolen car cannot be got back. I would like to see this idea accepted if all other conditions are met and the owner is ready to pay in installments,” she said.

In its first phase, the Go Green initiative is open for taxi and private-car owners in seven governorates — Cairo, Giza, Qalioubiya, Alexandria, Suez, the Red Sea, and Port Said. More than 1.3 million cars older than 20 years old are still running in Egypt, according to Gamea.

She said that the three-year initiative targeted replacing 70,000 rickety old private cars in the first year and 90,000 in each of the second and third years.

The Go Green initiative aims to help decrease harmful emissions and protect the environment by upgrading transportation, easing the burden on the state by reducing fuel imports, and taking advantage of natural-gas reserves after new discoveries.

It is being executed in collaboration with five ministries, the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE), 31 banks operating in the Egyptian market (representing 81.6 per cent of the banking sector), the Misr Insurance Company, Misr Life Insurance, and four companies that manufacture private vehicles and taxis, according to Maait.

*A version of this article appears in print in the 25 March, 2021 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly

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