Picture released by the Saudi Ministry of Transport shows the tested self-drive car. Image Credit: SPA

Cairo: Saudi Arabia has tested a self-drive electric vehicle as part of a national plan to promote the use of advanced transport systems, and reduce traffic accidents and fatalities, Saudi media reported.

“The trial is part of an initiative to adopt modern transport modes and is one objective of the national strategy for transport and logistic services aimed to explore the future and present smart transport solutions,” said Deputy Transport Minister Rumaih bin Mohammad Al Rumaih.

The initiative is also designed to improve movement between and inside cities in the kingdom, and boost transport eco-friendliness, according to the official.

He added at the launch ceremony that the trial is the first whereby the transport system seeks to improve the performance of logistic centres and enhance acceptability of self-drive vehicles in society, the Saudi news agency SPA reported.

No date was given for commissioning the self-drive cars into service.

In February, Saudi Arabia launched its first electric public transport bus in the port city of Jeddah as part of efforts to reduce carbon emissions in the kingdom.

The bus can travel up to 300 kilometres on a single charge, with high efficiency, consuming less than 10 per cent electricity compared to other buses.

The electric passenger buses, operated by Saudi Public Transport Company, ply along Jeddah’s public transport routes.

Saudi Arabia plans to produce 500,000 electric cars annually by 2030, the kingdom’s Investment Minister Khaled Al Faleh said last January.

Last November, Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman announced the launch of Ceer Motors, the first Saudi electric vehicle brand.

The trial came in line with the strategy of the Saudi Public Investment Fund ( PIF), headed by the crown prince, to focus on locally unlocking potential of promising sectors that can help drive diversification of the kingdom’s economy.