EV Leaders: Adeel Irshad, Chief Operating Officer, EV Technology

Adeel Irshad is the Chief Operating Officer at EV Technology, headquartered in Muscat, Oman. He orchestrates the strategic expansion of EV and charging infrastructure projects across the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) and MENA (Middle East and North Africa) region.

In his role, Adeel crafts innovative market strategies and forges pivotal partnerships with global EV and EVSE (Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment) manufacturers. He has evolved EV Technology from its roots in the oil and gas sector to become a trailblazer in sustainable mobility solutions. Irshad’s dedication to advancing pure EV adoption in MENA is underscored by exclusive collaborations with leading new energy brands, positioning the company at the forefront of the EV ecosystem.

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We’re thrilled to have caught up with Adeel, and to hear from his first-hand experience of decarbonising the GCC/MENA regions.

You have been instrumental in steering EV Technology’s parent company, SIIG, towards sustainable and renewable technology. What has been the most challenging aspect of this transition?

One of the most challenging aspects of steering towards sustainable and renewable technology is navigating the complexities of the market and ensuring that the transition is not just environmentally friendly but also economically viable, efficient, and effective and at the same competitive. 

I’ve faced several challenges in transitioning SIIG to sustainable technology, including securing significant financial investments for R&D and infrastructure, and convincing stakeholders of the long-term benefits despite initial costs. Gaining market acceptance for new sustainable technologies required effective marketing strategies and demonstrating benefits like lower operational costs and environmental advantages of EVs over traditional vehicles. 

Managing a sustainable and ethical supply chain involved working with suppliers to improve practices and ensure compliance with environmental standards. Navigating evolving regulatory requirements demanded staying updated and ensuring adherence. Continuous innovation was essential, necessitating investment in R&D to stay competitive. 

My role required addressing these challenges through strategic planning, stakeholder engagement, and a steadfast commitment to sustainability goals. It has taught me the importance of strategic decision-making, collaboration with OEMs, and adaptability. Prioritising tasks, multitasking, and effective time management have been crucial, as has delegating to my incredible team. 

Continuous improvement, understanding and mitigating risks, and leading an awesome startup are at the heart of my role. This journey emphasises learning, adaptation, and a commitment to efficiency, sustainability, and effectiveness.

The EV sector is evolving rapidly, with new technologies and initiatives announced constantly. What is EV Technology doing to stand out from the competition?

Wow, that’s a significant question, often compared to the classic ‘chicken and egg’ dilemma within the EV domain since EV industry is evolving each day with innovative solutions and breakthroughs globally.

Also in my opinion the present focus shall not be on competition but on sustaining stability and survival in the industry race by being innovative and constantly evolving, as exemplified by the collapse of some EV businesses that taught us valuable lessons.

In the present landscape of electric vehicles (EVs), significant advancements have been made across various fronts. Firstly, there’s been a surge in the development of high-performance EV models with longer driving ranges and faster charging capabilities, thanks to ongoing innovations in battery technology and vehicle design. Additionally, the EV charging infrastructure has seen remarkable progress, with the establishment of fast-charging networks along highways and in urban areas, making long-distance travel more convenient for EV owners. 

Furthermore, advancements in autonomous driving technology have been integrated into some EV models, enhancing safety and driving efficiency. Alongside these technical advancements, there’s been a growing emphasis on sustainability, with EV manufacturers and stakeholders investing heavily in eco-friendly materials, recycling programs, and renewable energy integration to reduce the environmental impact of EV production and operation. Overall, these present advancements in EV technology are driving increased adoption rates, reshaping the automotive industry, and contributing positively to a greener and more sustainable future.

 EV Technology is setting itself apart in the rapidly evolving EV sector through a combination of innovation, strategic partnerships with EV OEMs based on local customer preferences, and a commitment to sustainability. Recently, we have made significant advancements to work in the domain of EV with integration of AI, IoT, AV, battery and charging technologies, including the development of ultra-fast chargers that reduce charging times significantly. For instance, our partnership with Star Charge, the top-ranked company in EV charging according to Frost & Sullivan, has enabled us to introduce state-of-the-art charging solutions in Oman and constant development in the region. 

We are looking forward to work with innovative hubs connecting industry stakeholders, government bodies, and consumers to foster collaboration and expedite the adoption of sustainable mobility technologies. Additionally, we have implemented robust sustainability practices across our supply chain, ensuring compliance with the highest environmental standards. 

Our effective marketing strategies emphasise the long-term cost savings and environmental benefits of EVs, helping to shift consumer perceptions and drive market acceptance. Through these initiatives, EV Technology not only stays competitive but also leads the way in promoting sustainable and innovative solutions in the EV industry.

EV Technology is primarily active in Oman and the GCC region. What are the main barriers to the EV transition in the region?

The GCC Region has traditionally been dependent on oil for energy & mobility but not anymore. 

However, with growing environmental concerns & a global shift towards cleaner energy, the adoption of EVs in the Region has gained importance for transitioning towards sustainable & environmental friendly mobility solutions with each country in the region having its own sustainable vision and electrification goals 

In my personal perspective, the shift towards the vision of electrification is already in place, including Saudi Arabia’s ambition to reach 30% electrification by 2030 and 100% by 2060, the UAE’s target of achieving this by 2050, and Oman’s strategy to decrease carbon emissions by 3% in 2030, 34% in 2040, and ultimately attaining 100% by 2050. Moreover, Oman is leading in regulatory measures such as exempting EVs and spare parts from VAT, eliminating customs fees, offering free car registration, mandating EV charging installations at all fuel stations, and collaborating with commercial entities for exclusive EV promotions. Similarly, Bahrain, Qatar, and Kuwait are also committed to achieving carbon neutrality by 2050.

In the GCC region, EV adoption presents both unique opportunities and challenges compared to other parts of the world. One significant opportunity is the region’s vast potential for renewable energy, particularly solar power, which can be leveraged to charge EVs sustainably. Additionally, the already growing awareness and investment support from governments and policymakers for clean energy initiatives has create a conducive environment for EV adoption.

However, several challenges must be addressed. Infrastructure development, including establishing a robust network of charging stations, is crucial to support widespread EV usage. Moreover, consumer perceptions and preferences, which may favor traditional vehicles due to factors like range anxiety and charging convenience, need to be addressed through education and awareness campaigns.

Additionally, the initial high cost of EVs compared to traditional vehicles poses a significant barrier to adoption, especially in a market where price sensitivity is high. Limited availability and variety of EV models from automakers in the region also contribute to slower adoption rates. Furthermore, the region’s heavy reliance on fossil fuels and the relatively low cost of gasoline compared to other regions can diminish the incentive for consumers to switch to EVs.

Regulatory frameworks also play a vital role, and ensuring consistent policies across the region can promote investment and innovation in the EV sector. Overcoming these barriers will require collaborative efforts between governments, industry stakeholders, and consumers to address infrastructure gaps, improve affordability, increase model availability, and implement supportive policies that incentivise the adoption of EVs in the GCC region.

What key projects have you overseen which have propelled EV Technology to become a leader in the sector?

As the Chief Operating Officer at EV Technology, I’ve led various initiatives that have cemented our position as a leader in the EV sector. This includes developing tailored market entry strategies for the MENA/GCC region, collaborating with global OEMs to offer and create cutting-edge EV models and battery solutions, establishing a robust EV charging infrastructure network ensuring that our offerings are technologically advanced, environmentally friendly, and cost-effective to support the growing demand for EVs and enhance customer convenience.

Our projects also involve electrifying corporate fleets, which has become a central focus for many companies due to their commitment to sustainability ingrained in their corporate policies. This initiative expands to include providing EV charging solutions to all fuel station companies and operators, which experience consistent demand and supply every day. Additionally, we have initiatives targeted at the tourism industry, offering e-rental services with city-smart vehicles that are easy to charge. Recognising the importance of consumer preferences in retail sales, our primary emphasis has been on providing vehicles tailored to local specific terrains, temperatures, weather conditions, and affordability, offering options such as sedans, luxury SUVs, and smart city vehicles.

Additionally for Q4, we are collaborating with our new partners to develop exceptional products and services tailored for commercial light vehicles and electric buses.

Engaging with government bodies and stakeholders is vital to advocate for supportive policies, implementing talent development programs and training initiatives raining initiatives within our organisation and across industry partners to enhance skills, knowledge, and expertise in EV technology, operations, enhancing customer experience through innovative solutions, and championed sustainability initiatives, including recycling programs, renewable energy integration, and carbon footprint reduction strategies, to align with global sustainability goals and contribute to a greener future.

These efforts have not only propelled EV Technology’s growth but also contributed significantly to advancing EV adoption and sustainable mobility in our target markets. Also to note that this journey was marked by ups and downs, including the financial collapse or closure of some of our OEMS & partners, while others thrived. Given the rapidly evolving nature of the EV market, we continuously adapted to maintain our leadership position.

How do you see the EV charging sector developing worldwide between now and 2035?

This is a very visionary question indeed, in my opinion charging stations are poised to undergo innovation, just like the advancements we witnessed in smartphones, tablets, and computers throughout our tech history. 

In present time, discussing EV charging infrastructure becomes unnecessary sometimes given the substantial progress already achieved in this domain globally.

Between now and 2035, the EV charging sector is anticipated to experience profound development and transformation on a global scale. Several key trends and innovations are driving this evolution, reshaping the landscape of EV charging infrastructure.

One major trend is the expansion and enhancement of fast-charging networks. Companies and governments are investing heavily in high-power charging stations capable of significantly reducing charging times. For instance, EVSE that can deliver up to 350+ kW of power, enabling EVs to add hundreds of miles of range in a matter of minutes. This trend is crucial for addressing range anxiety and encouraging long-distance EV travel.

Wireless charging technology is also making significant strides that allow EVs to charge without physical connections. This technology offers convenience and ease of use, especially for urban environments and fleets. For example, wireless charging pads installed on city streets or in parking lots can automatically charge EVs while they are parked, enhancing the overall EV ownership experience.

Bidirectional charging, or vehicle-to-grid (V2G) technology, is another area of innovation with immense potential. V2G systems enable EVs to not only draw power from the grid but also send surplus energy back, effectively turning EVs into mobile energy storage units that allows EV owners to use their vehicles’ batteries to power their homes during peak demand periods or grid outages. As V2G technology matures and gains widespread adoption, it could play a crucial role in grid stabilisation and renewable energy integration.

Smart charging solutions are also becoming more sophisticated. AI-driven algorithms and IoT-enabled platforms are optimizing charging processes based on factors such as grid demand, energy prices, and user preferences that can dynamically adjust charging rates and schedules, maximising energy efficiency and grid utilisation. Additionally, smart charging solutions facilitate demand response programs, allowing EVs to participate in grid balancing and earn incentives for flexible charging behaviour.

Interoperability and standardisation efforts are further accelerating the development of the EV charging sector. Industry stakeholders are working towards common charging protocols, such as CCS (Combined Charging System) and ISO 15118, to ensure seamless interoperability between different EV models and charging networks. This interoperability is essential for enhancing user experience, promoting EV adoption, and building a cohesive charging infrastructure ecosystem.

Collaborations and partnerships are also driving innovation in the EV charging sector. Automakers, charging infrastructure providers, energy companies, and governments are joining forces to deploy integrated charging solutions, develop new business models, and expand charging infrastructure coverage to provide seamless access to charging stations for EV owners, simplifying the charging experience and encouraging EV adoption.

In conclusion, the EV charging sector is evolving rapidly, fuelled by technological advancements, market demand, regulatory support, and industry collaborations. By 2035, we can expect to see a comprehensive and interconnected charging infrastructure network that offers fast, convenient, and sustainable charging solutions for EV owners worldwide, accelerating the transition to electric mobility and a greener future.

What is your message to the EV sector, and governments around the world?

My message echoes through the winds of change and sustainability. I paint a vision of tomorrow where clean, seamless mobility transcends being merely a personal preference, it becomes our shared pledge. 

Let’s pioneer innovation and welcome electric vehicles into our lives as catalysts for a green, eco-friendly world striving towards net-zero horizons.

In this paradigm shift, mobility isn’t just about getting from point A to B; it’s a mindful decision to tread lightly on our planet. Together, we can steer this transformative journey, crafting a future where every road navigated is a testament to our commitment to a brighter, healthier Earth, for there’s no alternate planet B waiting in the wings.

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