The manufacturer of “Quds Rise” hopes that 10,000 vehicles will be produced by next year in this Mediterranean country affected by the crisis.
An electric car made in Lebanon debuted, the first time the Mediterranean country has made an automobile, despite struggling amid a serious economic crisis with frequent power cuts.
The red sports car – named “Quds Rise”, using the Arabic name for Jerusalem – is the project of Palestinian businessman of Lebanese descent Jihad Mohammad.
It is the “first automobile to be manufactured locally,” Mohammad told reporters on Saturday during the unveiling in a parking lot south of Beirut.
It was built in Lebanon “from start to finish,” he said of the prototype, sporting a golden logo on the front of the Dome of the Rock, the shrine of the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, the third holiest site in Islam.
The car will cost $ 30,000.
Production of up to 10,000 vehicles is expected to start later this year in Lebanon, with cars hitting the market within a year, said Mohammad, director of Lebanese company EV Electra.
Mohammad, 50, said he started the company four years ago after years abroad, employing Lebanese and Palestinian engineers among 300 staff.
He says his long-term goal is to compete in the international market for hybrid and electric cars, as well as to make sales in Lebanon.
But the unveiling comes as Lebanon struggles amid its worst economic crisis in decades and sales of imported cars are at an all time high, in part due to capital controls and drastic black market devaluation. .
“Take a step in the right direction”?
Dealerships sold just 62 new cars in the first two months of 2021, nearly 97% less than in the same period a year earlier, according to figures released by the Association of Automobile Importers in Canada. Lebanon.
The economic crisis since the end of 2019 has plunged more than the half of the population in poverty.
But Mohammad said potential Lebanese buyers would be offered the option to pay for half of the new electric car in dollars, with the rest paid in Lebanese pounds at a better than black market exchange rate, payable over five years. without interest.
Lebanon also relies on fossil fuels for power generation, which is already insufficient for a population of around six million people who experience power cuts on a daily basis.
To power its new electric cars, the firm plans to set up around 100 charging stations across the country connected to generators.
These could then be powered by solar and wind power generation, Mohammad said.
Independent energy analyst Jessica Obeid praised the innovation, but said vehicles would only be environmentally friendly if the energy sector was seriously reformed.
“The energy sector is the biggest contributor to Lebanon’s greenhouse gas emissions,” and already under pressure from a shortage of dollars to import fuel, she told the AFP press agency.
But, she added, “if electric vehicles had solar charging stations, then that would be a step in the right direction.”