Abu Dhabi will host the Middle East and North Africa's first summit focused on electric vehicles this summer, as the UAE seeks to position itself as a leader in the next generation of transport.
The Electric Vehicle Innovation Summit, set to take place from May 23 to 25 at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre, is expected to attract important players in the burgeoning EV market. It will also stress the importance of environmental responsibility, Evis organisers said on Wednesday.
"In the decades to come we're going to be living in a transportation revolution ... eventually all transport systems will become electric," Nasser Saidi, chairman of the Clean Energy Business Council, said at a press conference.
"At the same time, what's going to encourage this transport revolution is the shift in people's habits and attitudes – we're now more conscious of the environment and climate change."
The EV market has grown exponentially in the past decade, with global sales more than doubling to 6.6 million in 2021 as more people opt for eco-friendly alternatives to traditional fuel guzzlers, the International Energy Agency said in a report this month.
In 2012, about 130,000 EVs were sold but now that is roughly the number sold in a week, as the report says.
EVs now command a 9 per cent global market share in the car industry, more than double the 4.1 per cent share in 2020 when 3 million units were sold, and more than triple 2019's 2.5 per cent share, when 2.2 million cars were sold, the IEA said.
The rise of the EV market also runs parallel to global sustainability and environmental goals. The UAE last October announced its Net Zero By 2050 initiative, which aims to reduce the Emirates' carbon emissions by 2050 by investing Dh600 billion ($163.37bn) in clean and renewable energy sources in the next three decades.
In November, the Abu Dhabi Department of Energy outlined nine initiatives to help accelerate the UAE's sustainable economic growth during the UN's Cop26 climate talks in Glasgow, in which the UAE took an active part.
"If we're serious about carbon neutrality by 2050, we need to be serious about [the] electrification of our fleet," said Stephen Severance, head of programme management and marketing at Masdar City, Abu Dhabi's sustainability centre and partner of Evis.
The summit is a "catalyst in steering the region's transition towards e-mobility", said Khalifa Al Qubaisi, chief commercial officer of Adnec Group. It "reaffirms the Abu Dhabi government's focus on renewable energy and clean transportation technologies, in addition to our commitment to a net-zero future".
Leading industry figures, including Germany's Mercedes-Benz and Tesla, the world's biggest EV manufacturer, are expected to exhibit electric transport for land, sea and air at the Evis.
Discussions will be held on topics such as new energy vehicles, energy, infrastructure, powertrains and batteries.
Tesla, widely seen as the barometer of the global EV market's health, underlined the growing interest of the UAE market when it opened its first showroom in Dubai in 2017.
Elon Musk, the chief executive of Tesla and the world's richest person, said at the time that the company planned to invest "tens of millions of dollars" in the UAE for charging, service and support infrastructure.
"The Evis is very promising. We all know that everybody is worried about climate change and clean energy and sustainability issues," said Naser Al Bahri, managing director of events and conferences at Nirvana Holding, the organiser of the Evis.
With governments across the world launching EV initiatives, "the e-mobility transformation is mandatory. We would like to encourage investments in clean vehicle technology", he said.
Nearly 600 delegates, 200 exhibitors and up to 5,000 visitors are expected to attend the summit, which is intended to become an annual event.