Careem backs Dubai drive to make taxis more eco-friendly

Dubai Roads and Transport Authority target to ensure 90% of 'limousines' are hybrid or electric by 2026 wins support

Many Careem and Uber vehicles are large saloons with engines as big as 3.5-litres. Jeffrey E Biteng / The National
Many Careem and Uber vehicles are large saloons with engines as big as 3.5-litres. Jeffrey E Biteng / The National

An ambitious drive by Dubai's transport authority to greatly increase the number of eco-friendly taxis on the emirate's roads has been backed by major ride-hailing firm Careem.

The Roads and Transport Authority wants 90 per cent of vehicles to be hybrid or electric by 2026.

The green vision, announced on Saturday, will impact what the authority classes as 'limousines' operating across Dubai.

The vast majority are large Lexus ES and LS saloons - often with engines as large as 3.5-litres, while others are seven-seaters. Fleets are often owned by companies and their drivers work as subcontractors for Uber and Careem.

Bassel Al Nahlaoui, managing director of Careem welcomed the move, insisting it was good news for consumers and operators alike.

"We are pleased to see governments in our region shifting towards a more sustainable approach. This will not only help in reducing the production of carbon emission in Dubai but also, help us reduce our fuel consumption,” he said.

"There are about 4,000 hybrid and electric vehicles on the road now in Dubai, including fewer than 1,000 fully electric vehicles and we will be working with our partner limo companies across the city to increase that number and create a more sustainable environment.”

Ivan Iannelli, chief executive officer of Dubai Carbon, a body that was set up to promote low carbon and green economies, said users would benefit from the reduced cost of running electric and hybrid cars compared to their gas-guzzling counterparts.

“Electric cars are a lot, lot cheaper to run than those that use gas,” said Mr Iannelli.

“I own an electric car myself and it only costs me about Dh100 a month to keep it running on the roads.

“My car is a 2012 model as well. It’s like using an older iPhone in that the newer models will be even more efficient when it comes to charging.”

Mattar Al Tayer, the RTA’s director-general, said there were currently almost 6,500 limousines on Dubai’s roads, which were operated by more than 100 companies.

The RTA revealed only six per cent of the Emirate’s limousines were currently hybrid or electric.

Mr Iannelli said that the announcement by the RTA was in line with a growing demand for green vehicles across the world.

“Years ago you had the likes of Ferrari saying they would never work on a hybrid vehicle because it was not what their customers expected,” said Mr Iannelli.

“Now they are unveiling hybrid supercars.”

He said the only reason more people in Dubai had not traditionally bought green vehicles was because they believed they were too expensive.

Careem has welcomed plans to move towards a greener fleet of vehicles. Courtesy Careem
Careem has welcomed plans to move towards a greener fleet of vehicles. Courtesy Careem

“The market for green cars in Dubai has been traditionally under served with a lot of high end vehicles but a very selective middle range,” he said.

“That’s all changing now though as there are 19 different models (of hybrid and electric cars) being released in Dubai next year alone.”

It was estimated the use of electric and hybrid vehicles would create financial savings of Dh20,000 over the life cycle of each vehicle, according to the RTA’s Mr Al Tayer.

Gary West, managing director of future mobility for GM (General Motors) in Africa and the Middle East, said the RTA's announcement was "an exciting and bold step for the future".

"The benefits from alternative propulsion vehicles are numerous, in addition to the positive environmental impact," he said.

"There is less maintenance repair required on an electric vehicle, compared to a traditional internal combustion engine, and the ride can be smoother.

"We see this announcement as a testament to the visionary leadership of Dubai and the vital role it plays in furthering future transportation."

Uber did not comment at time of going to press.

Updated: July 1, 2019 07:37 AM


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