Spanish automaker SEAT has turned its attention to Algeria, where the Volkswagen Group inaugurated a multi-brand vehicle assembly plant in Relizane last year, to raise the profile and stimulate the market for Compressed Natural Gas-powered vehicles. Volkswagen, which has committed in Europe to the ongoing development of high quality natural gas vehicles (NGV), is represented in Algeria by local company Sovac S.p.A.
Today in Algeria there are more than 73,500 km of natural gas pipeline and about 5.57 million vehicles (CEIC data). Algeria’s energy needs are met almost exclusively by hydrocarbons, particularly natural gas which is the most available energy. Other forms of energy are only used when gas can not be used. Government statistics do not report on the small number of natural gas vehicles in use, but it is believed to be somewhere between 200 and 300.
Two years ago, the Ministry of Energy launched an ambitious renewable energy development and energy efficiency program in an endeavour to preserve fossil resources and contribute to sustainable development, amongst other goals. It is in this setting that SEAT plans to introduce NGVs.
The program aims to promote the most available and least polluting fuels, in this case CNG and LPG. The aim is to enrich the fuel supply structure and help mitigate the effects of conventional fuels on health and the environment. In the long term, this program provides for the generalization of the use of clean fuels in individual and collective transport, particularly in large urban centers. For example, 11,000 buses are expected to be converted to natural gas fuel (CNG) over the period 2016-2030.
SEAT Envisages North African Market
SEAT President Luca de Meo, SEAT Vice-President for Purchasing Klaus Ziegler, and Mourad Oulmi, the CEO of SOVAC and SOVAC Production, SEAT’s importer and the assembly partner of the Volkswagen Group in Algeria, met with Algerian Prime Minister Ahmed Ouyahia and Industry Minister Youcef Yousfi to discuss the future of the automotive industry in Algeria and the long-term collaboration between the country and the Volkswagen Group.
Luca de Meo’s visit to Algeria is framed within the brand’s internationalisation strategy. SEAT has an ambitious growth objective for upcoming years and North Africa, together with Latin America, plays a key role in this strategy. With its strong potential, Algeria is at the centre of SEAT’s North Africa growth plan, where the growth potential for natural gas vehicles is significant given the dominance of natural gas as the primary source of energy and the country’s 11th place among countries with proven natural gas reserves (4.5 trillion m3 at January 1, 2018).
SEAT says CNG is a sustainable alternative to traditional and electric powertrains. CNG emits 85% less nitrogen oxide than diesel engines, reduces CO2 emissions by 25% compared to petrol engines and eliminates almost all suspended particulates. In this regard, during his visit to Algeria Luca de Meo also met with Abdelmoumen Ould Kaddourla, the CEO of Sonatrach, the country’s major gas company.
After his meeting with the Algerian Prime Minister, the President of SEAT highlighted that “North Africa is a natural growth area for SEAT, which is currently in a phase of internationalisation. The inauguration of the Relizane plant in July 2017 marked a historic milestone for us, and this is the first time we are producing outside European borders. Here in Algeria, we are building cars made by and for Algerians. Today we are presenting the fifth generation Ibiza, and in the upcoming months we expect to begin assembling other models in order to meet the demand by Algerian customers”.
In 2018, SEAT is going to debut the Arona crossover fuelled with compressed natural gas, which will extend SEAT’s CNG range currently comprising Mii, Ibiza and Leon.
According to Spanish auto magazine autobild.es, sales of Seat cars with hybrid technology of compressed natural gas (CNG) and gasoline have increased by 321% in 2017 compared to the previous year, from 324 units to 1,042 units.
Primary source: SEAT