Are Electric Vehicles (EVs) a viable option in the UAE? - GulfToday

Are Electric Vehicles (EVs) a viable option in the UAE?

Electric Vehicles

Picture used for illustrative purposes only.

Different parts of the world are exploring alternatives to the current vehicles on the road owing to the rise in awareness of environmental ramifications derived from conventional petrol and diesel vehicles. Alternatives are taking the form of hybrid or Electric Vehicles (EVs), with the latter no longer unknown to many, given the buzz around Tesla. EVs are powered by an electric motor and have regained momentum since 2012.

In 2021, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA), EV sales accounted for approximately 9% of the global market. Additionally, an upward trend regarding the same has been witnessed in the UAE. For example, the number of registered electric vehicles in Dubai has risen from 71 to 5107 since 2014, according to the Dubai Electric and Water Authority (DEWA). Forecasts indicate that the EV market in the UAE will continue to expand, which may be aided by the unprecedented increase in fuel costs.

According to a survey by Audi Abu Dhabi (AD), "52 percent of UAE residents are considering hybrid or electric vehicles as a result of rising fuel prices." Irrespective of this interest in EVs, is mass adoption of EVs in the UAE feasible? Can the UAE's automobile industry and EV market accommodate the mentioned interest?

While incentives such as free Salik, dedicated parking, reduced vehicle registration fees, and free charging in public EV charging slots are in place to entice users to choose EVs over conventional ones, there remain some trade-offs that prevent a definitive answer to the questions posed above.

But as I always prefer to say. It depends. Regardless of trends, several factors continue to influence the future of EVs in the UAE, and resolving them could potentially land us in the league of countries with the most Electric Vehicles. And may complement the UAE's ambitions to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.

Some hindering factors can be summed up using the acronym "R.P.O" for Readiness, Prices, and Options.

Readiness refers to the capacity of the UAE's current infrastructure to accommodate the growing demand for EVs. I don't mean the roads, but the deployment of charging stations. To date, over 750 charging stations have been deployed around the country. Although the number of charging stations has relatively improved compared to 2012, it is insufficient to keep many EVs on the road or alleviate "range anxiety" during long commutes.

This obstacle is not only faced by the UAE but by the vast majority of countries. Despite this, the UAE is already on course to overcoming the challenge by cultivating collaboration with premier technology providers such as Siemens technology to install ultra-fast EV chargers across the country's highways. This is a positive development, but it will soon be necessary to examine technologies that improve battery charging time and reduce the current wait time.

Even though EVs are claimed to be environmentally friendly, they are not pocket-friendly, meaning that not every vehicle owner will be able to purchase an EV; thus, mass adoption is still challenging. One of the rational explanations for the high price of EVs is what goes into them. The batteries.

However, we cannot also rule out the influence of the supply and demand law on increasing prices. Currently, the demand for EVs is skyrocketing. At the same time, the supply is low due to the number of manufacturers, challenges in the global supply chain, and the scarcity of critical raw materials used in their production. While the price rise may hurt customer attitudes toward EV adoption, the potential long-term savings on fuel costs could offset the one-time expense of purchasing an EV.

In addition, the EV industry has fewer options and manufacturers than the conventional vehicle market, which may challenge consumers' vehicle purchase decisions. According to the survey conducted by Audi AD, 25% of respondents are waiting for further EV options.

Let's assume that the aforementioned holds solid ground and that the widespread adoption of electric vehicles is inevitable. What will happen to the petrol and diesel vehicles? What about the batteries that will inevitably be replaced? Will this be the beginning of another environmental concern? Or will we consider recycling them?


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