Dubai is setting its sights on a bold and ambitious goal: to have a whopping 42,000 electric cars humming along its roads by 2030. The region is revving up efforts to steer everyone towards a greener and more environmentally friendly option - electric vehicles, or EVs for short.
Reports indicate that the initiative has already charged up, with the number of EV owners zooming from a mere 14 back in 2015 to a staggering 11,000 by the time May 2023 rolled around. The government and various stakeholders are pushing the pedal to the metal, fueled by strong optimism to hit this target.
Yet, hitting such a target isn't just about accelerating the adoption of electric vehicles. It means choreographing moves that gracefully guide existing internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles toward a more sustainable alternative.
Jaideep Kapani, a consultant specializing in EV and ESG partnerships, breaks it down, saying, "Getting upgraded cars on ICE is simpler, thanks to the existing refueling infrastructure. Transitioning to EVs is a game changer. It's about 'Energy' Infrastructure, government policies paving the way, financing for vehicle purchases, and the economic upsides of making the switch."
Kapani talks about various sectors - Electric vehicles, micro-mobility, last-mile delivery, and more. However, the biggest roadblock in the EV journey today is the price tag. Globally, EVs come with a heftier price, but Kapani points out that as with any new technology, development and scale will eventually ease the burden.
"More EVs are rolling into the market. Yet, the current average price is over 200,000 AED, which is substantial. Then there's the issue of charging infrastructure. Still, efforts are in full swing to set up charging stations and develop the infrastructure," elaborates Adam Ridgway, founder of the EV startup One-Moto, a cutting-edge Dubai-based electric mobility start-up focused on developing and manufacturing electric vehicles, charging infrastructure, and sustainable transportation solutions for the last mile industry.
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Ridgway adds that what's needed is more automakers and major players jumping into the arena, manufacturing more EVs. The more brands offering EVs, the more the infrastructure and support network will naturally follow suit.
He notes that presently, Tesla claims around 52% of Dubai's EV market share, with Porsche and MG owning 19% and 10%, respectively. The remaining slice belongs to other contenders. The region is on a supply-driven trajectory.
Kapani chimes in, highlighting that in Dubai, the four-wheeler market rules the road due to factors like speed, safety, distance, and the sizzling heat. Adapting ICE bikes to EVs here is about 50-60% pricier. The quest is on for a product that can carry a load, cover long distances on a single charge, and endure Dubai's harsh conditions.
Dubai's government has already made a gearshift by transitioning its taxi fleet to hybrids. The ambitious plan is to ultimately go electric, and fast charging is the pit stop on this journey. The roadmap begins with hybrids and accelerates to full electric.
"The real game-changer will be the availability of more EV brands in the market," Ridgway adds. Embracing EVs isn't just about individuals; it's an all-encompassing transformation requiring infrastructure, policy changes, and everyone's participation.
"For fleet operators, capital costs outweigh those of ICE vehicles. Savings on fuel are outweighed by planning charging and swapping logistics. For 4-wheeler owners who travel long distances, the current range barely gets them through the day. Government backing in infrastructure building will expedite EV adoption across 2-wheelers, 3-wheelers, 4-wheelers, and even buses," Kapani emphasises.
One-Moto and similar companies are blazing a new trail by creating delivery fleets powered entirely by EVs. "Unlike the Indian market, where two-wheelers dominate, the Middle East has only 4,000 privately used motorcycles. The shift here is toward an electric delivery fleet. If the government, for instance, hops on the EV delivery train, that's a major endorsement," Ridgway points out.
Challenges linger, however. "Delivery sector two-wheelers need replacement every four years. Over that span, higher costs don't make sense when petrol is cheaper. The EV industry grapples with high-interest rates and capital scarcity, hurting fleet and delivery operators," Kapani explains.
What's steering the wheel today is a green agenda, embraced not only by individuals but also by larger corporations. "Many have announced global green commitments, and local Dubai offices are also charting courses to lower CO2 emissions," Ridgway notes.
But the spotlight must now shift to recycling vehicles and battery components - a priority for the government and other stakeholders. Many countries wrestle with this issue and neglecting it will only inflate toxicity and carbon footprints. Reusing EV components will boost resale value, cut costs, and curtail waste.
Dubai's tradition of spearheading initiatives for a better, more sustainable lifestyle continues. The UAE ranks 8th in global electric mobility readiness. Authorities are earmarking around 160 billion dollars over three decades to supercharge EV infrastructure, fueling the net-zero-by-2050 roadmap.
"For consumers, DEWA is laying down charging infrastructure and providing free electricity for EVs. DEWA aims for 10,000 charging stations by 2030, turbocharging adoption. Initiatives like free parking for EVs, no Salik tolls, and registration cost subsidies are modest but crucial steps to create a supportive ecosystem," Kapani concludes.
Disclaimer - This article is a part of featured content series on Business in Dubai