Interview: “The change in the global automotive market is an opportunity for Morocco to seize”

With prices rising significantly at the pump, more and more Moroccans are opting to purchase hybrid or electric vehicles. In addition, some brands have not offered diesel engines for many years, such as Toyota.

And the European Union will ban the circulation of vehicles with internal combustion engines in its territory until 2035, in accordance with the objective of its “Green Deal”, where it intends to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.

Adil Bennani, president of the Moroccan Vehicle Importers Association (AIVAM), shares his reading on the future of the Moroccan car market, which will have to adapt.

Is it more interesting to purchase a hybrid or 100% electric vehicle today?
If everyone wanted to buy an electric vehicle today, it wouldn’t be possible. There are not all price ranges, availability or charging network.

There are a number of restrictions. Today, pure electricity is destined for a “limited” category of customers.

This category will buy it as a second or third vehicle, which has charging capability at home, which does not necessarily require charging abroad, and when it comes to long trips, they will take another vehicle.

In terms of mass, a hybrid vehicle is more convenient. However, we have witnessed in the last two years, and this will accelerate in the next two years, an unprecedented technological development in the field of electricity.

We have less and less heavy, smaller and smaller batteries that recharge quickly and last longer. This combined with fast charging technology. We were at 7, 11, even 20 kW, we went to 50, 100, 150 kW. Now there are terminals at 350 kW, it’s “ultra-fast”.

All this means that, in a few months, you will have vehicles with more than 1,000 km of autonomy, with charging times of less than 6 or 7 minutes, for a cylinder capacity of 300 km. If we project ourselves in 4/5 years, electricity will become more democratic.

The volume effect will pull prices down. Studies show that from 2025/2026, we should achieve price parity between a thermal vehicle and an electric vehicle.

When we know the advantages of the electric vehicle in terms of pollution, power, maintenance and mainly in energy cost, this is divided by 3 for the 100 km in Morocco.

Car dealerships are vying for government incentives to boost electric vehicle sales. what can you tell us on that subject?

Over the last 30 years, we have been able to observe, in terms of clean mobility, that it is the public authorities that say that it is necessary to drive “clean”. This is done on two levels.

The first is regulatory and concerns restrictions, as you pay a certain amount when you exceed a certain level of pollution. The second level concerns incentives, mainly as manufacturers respond to public regulatory demand. In Morocco, accepted vehicles must meet the “euro 4” standard or more, note that from 2023 we will go to euro 6.

We have some measures to encourage “clean driving”. We can cite, for example, a free sticker, a free proportional duty in the case of an electric or hybrid vehicle, reduced import duties even in a non-European area.

I can say that there are things that are being done, in which AIVAM has been an important actor to be able to promote this, but it is still shy.

We do not have free parking for green vehicles, free highways or “green” VAT, which is reduced for hybrid or electric vehicles. There is no price reduction system for the purchase of “clean” vehicles. There is still work to be done before there is nothing but cleaning on the market.

How do you read the future of the automotive industry in Morocco until 2030? (At the as the EU abandons heat engines).
I have no concern for the national industry. Manufacturers are following global trends in this area to adapt.

When we say that by 2035 there will be no more thermal vehicles, that leaves manufacturers 12/13 years to prepare for that deadline. In the Moroccan territory, we have global manufacturers that manufacture vehicles to meet their territorial and even global demand.

They will have to adapt over time. Factories will continue to operate as before. The technology will obviously change from thermal to electric.

This also impacts equipment manufacturers, who will also have to evolve in this direction, to meet the demand of their customers for this or that component. There will, in fact, be an adaptation phase for some equipment manufacturers.

If a manufacturer of a diesel part does just that for years, it will become obsolete at some point. This should, therefore, lead you to take advantage of the time you have to adapt and develop your production.

We have the means to offer manufacturers carbon-free production, which can make a difference to other destinations. This shift in the global automotive market is an opportunity for Morocco to seize.

Do you think Morocco can adopt hydrogen cars soon?
Nature abhors a vacuum. Humanity has always proved that it adapts according to the evolution of technology.

At a time when everyone traveled on horseback, we wondered about car adoption. The change is obviously made according to the possibilities of each one at the moment.

For hydrogen it’s the same thing, let’s go in the direction of what will exist. It is above all about the availability of infrastructure between now and then. It is important to create charging stations, and that is what we are trying to accelerate here with the public authorities.

There are some hydrogen powered models on the market, but they remain expensive at the moment. Of course, this will evolve according to market demand. The good thing is that Moroccans have no problem driving a thermal, hybrid or electric vehicle, as long as the conditions for use exist.

This is acceptable mileage, the availability of charging stations, plus an affordable cost. Today, hydrogen is very powerful, not to mention that it is totally unpolluted.

It is a true technological alternative for mobility, and we will see it arriving quickly, in the next few years, in utility vehicles.

Past experience has shown that when it comes to long distances and moving heavy loads, electricity is not the solution.

In the field of heavy goods vehicles, whether passenger or freight, we are moving towards hydrogen or hybrid with thermal but not electric.

The market is currently suffering from a shortage of new cars, which greatly benefits the second-hand market. what reading do you have this situation?
Covid has disrupted production chains and general logistics in the sector. We are experiencing a shortage of some components, especially semiconductors, and we continue to experience it.

This creates inflationary pressures in the market. When will this be resolved? Anyway, not before 2023. This has a good impact on the second-hand market, as there is a drop in new vehicles, this is the alternative for buyers.

Prices are going up, but you have to be careful as the production capacity of some components is going up again.

This directly implies the availability of new vehicles again. This will result in lower selling prices of new items and lower availability, which will impact the second-hand sector with lower depreciation. These are natural cycles that we observe in the markets.

The most serious is the demand situation. The offer may change over time, but if you don’t have customers ready to buy, you’ll end up with inventory pressure and falling prices.

Abdellah Ouardirhi / ECO Inspirations

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