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autoApril 26, 2021

Lebanon launches first electric car

BEIRUT: A Lebanon-made electric car made its debut Saturday, the first time the Mediterranean country has manufactured an automobile, despite struggling amid a dire economic crisis with frequent power cuts. The red sports car – named “Quds Rise”, using the Arabic name of Jerusalem – is the project of Lebanese-born Palestinian businessman Jihad Mohammad.

It’s the “first automobile to be made locally”, Mohammad told reporters, at the unveiling in a parking lot south of Beirut. It was built in Lebanon “from start to finish”, he said of the prototype, emblazoned at the front with a golden logo of the Dome of the Rock, the shrine in Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa mosque compound, Islam’s third holiest site. The car is to cost $30,000.

Production of up to 10,000 vehicles is hoped to start later this year in Lebanon, with cars to hit the market in a year’s time, said Mohammad, the director of Lebanon-based firm EV Electra. Mohammad, 50, said he set up the company four years ago after years abroad, employing Lebanese and Palestinian engineers among 300 members of staff.

He says his long-term goal is to compete on 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 imported car sales are at a record low, in part due to capital controls and drastic devaluation on the black market.