Driving electric cars is a growing global trend. By the end of last year, over 712,000 plug-in electric passenger cars and light utility vans were sold worldwide since 2003. For some, it’s their contribution towards reducing our carbon footprint on the environment, for others, it’s a trend to follow. It seems the electric era is still in its infancy, because this figure represents only about 0.06 percent of the world’s stock of motor vehicles.
In a country that has some of the largest reserves of petrol in the world, and with a price per litre still relatively cheap compared to international standards, how easy and practical is it to drive electric cars in the UAE ?
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Electric car models available in the UAE
It is currently quite difficult to find regular cars running 100% on an electric power supply in the UAE, as most of the models available on the market are hybrid.
Hybrid cars use both conventional combustion engines and electric engines, powered by batteries. Japanese manufacturer Nissan, has been very active in the electric car technologies for many years now. In the UAE, Nissan suggests the Pathfinder Hybrid model, a family SUV that is one of the brand’s best-sellers. On the higher end range, BMW has recently launched the i-8 model, which is a hybrid engine powered sports vehicle that aims at competing with regular combustion engine cars in this segment. Toyota also made a move forward by supplying additional hybrid Camry models to taxi companies in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Many buses from the RTA fleet in Dubai are powered by renewable energies too, including electricity.
Are electric cars economically viable?
Beside contributing to the good of the environment by limiting the carbon dioxide emissions, are there financial benefits in going for electric cars?
Statistics show that electric cars are 10 to 20 percent more expensive at purchase than regular cars. However, the savings that can be made over the vehicle’s lifespan are quite interesting. Electric engines will require much less maintenance than engines running on combustion, as no lubrication is involved in the process. All related parts will therefore require very little maintenance and will also last longer. Consumable parts such as breaks or tires will make the most of the annual maintenance budget for an electric vehicle.
Is the UAE ready for electric cars?
RTA, Dubai Municipality and DEWA are working hard to catch-up with other international cities in term of equipment and facilities for electric vehicle owners. 16 charging stations have already been installed around the country, for eco-friendly owners to recharge their vehicles. Many more stations are to open and plans are even made to equip commercial buildings like malls and airports or private accommodation buildings with such facilities.
Saeed Mohammed Al Tayer, MD and CEO of DEWA said in a statement this June, “As part of the first phase, 100 electric vehicle charging stations are being built this year, of which 16 are now ready. In the second phase, DEWA will install 84 charging stations of three different types: fast-charging, medium-charging and home-charging stations across Dubai.”
In Abu Dhabi, the MASDAR city project is also testing self-driving vehicles powered by renewable energies.