With the annual Electric Vehicle Road Trip about to take its third charge through the region, it would be tempting to suggest that the hard miles have already been run in its eco-motoring quest, as electric cars continue to gain traction in the UAE. Stats suggest otherwise: this is merely the beginning and attitudes still need to be changed if we are going to further reduce our reliance on petrol-powered personal transport.
Let's review the evidence
First evidence: for now, only four fully-electric vehicles are on sale in the UAE. Tesla provides half of that whirring line-up, via the Model S and Model X, while the other two cars are the distinctly less eye-popping Chevrolet Bolt EV and Renault Zoe — all of which will be represented on the EVRT. That is set to change in 2019, with the likes of the Jaguar I-Pace, Audi e-tron and possibly other hyphenated contenders set to land in our showrooms. But, until then, you have one saloon, one SUV and two superminis to choose from.
Secondly, in a survey of almost 4,000 people in the GCC that was co-authored by Global EVRT and YallaMotor, the company that runs the Middle East event and others like it around the world, it was found that more than 77 per cent of respondents had never driven an electric vehicle. About 74 per cent responded that they would only pay the same or less for an EV as they would for a petrol car.
It isn’t all doom and gloom, thankfully, going by answers to other questions posed by the survey, however: 23 per cent of people are willing to invest in an EV in the next two years, by which time, you suspect, there will be a far greater range of models for them to peruse. And while, as detailed above, almost three-quarters aren’t keen to dig deep to push petrol to the kerb, that does mean that about a quarter of people would be prepared to shell out more for an electric car than they would for a fossil-fuel ride.
The National gets involved
The National is doing its part, and will be on the first leg of the EVRT Middle East this weekend. This year's event is launched on Thursday (January 17) at the World Future Energy Summit at Adnec in Abu Dhabi, before moving on to Yas Marina Circuit to display the raw speed of electric cars via a drag race. Influencers, including the Arabian Gazelles, will be behind the wheel on the 400-metre course.
From there, the road trip treks to Muscat on Friday, then spends the next two days in Oman, before the second leg of the event heads to Ras Al Khaimah, Fujairah and Dubai, covering a total of 2,000 kilometres across its eight-day duration. Stop-offs en route include e-mobility forums in Muscat and Dubai, as well as Jebel Jais and various cultural tours and recreational events.
We'll give you more updates from the road.
For more information on the EVRT Middle East, visit www.evrtmiddleeast.com