KHOBAR, Saudi Arabia (Reuters) - State-controlled Saudi Electricity Co (SEC) has signed a deal with Japanese Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO), Nissan Motor Co and Takaoka Toko for the first electric vehicle (EV) pilot project in the world's largest oil exporter, it said on Sunday.
Saudi Arabia is keen to develop its auto industry as part of efforts to diversify the economy beyond oil and has teamed up with Japan's Toyota Motor Corp to conduct studies for that.
Tighter global emissions regulations are forcing automakers worldwide to shift to EVs, and some are tying up to share the high costs of developing batteries for them.
Under the agreement, fast-charger stations will be developed to charge EVs in 30 minutes. SEC will borrow three EVs from Nissan while TEPCO and Takaoka Toko will provide three fast chargers. SEC did not give a timeframe for the plan.
Such a move is part of the company's strategy to reduce reliance on oil and cut emissions, SEC said in a statement. State oil giant Saudi Aramco is also working on technologies to make vehicles more efficient.
Its CEO Amin Nasser told Reuters in November improved efficiency would better sustain production in the long term with renewables hopefully growing and contributing to meeting rising demand which will require different sources of energy.
Nasser told CNBC in October in an interview, EVs will take a good market share but it will be decades before they have a significant percentage of the energy mix.
Saudi Arabia hosted on Sunday a Saudi-Japanese business forum where MoUs have been signed with companies including Saline Water Conversion Corporation (SWCC) and New Energy and Industrial Technology Development (NEDCO).
(Reporting by Reem Shamseddine, additional reporting by Marwa Rashad, editing by David Evans)