DUBAI // Drivers of eco-friendly electric cars can now plug into a network of 16 charging stations around the emirate.
The silent vehicles cars are a rarity on the roads, but they could soon be a far more common sight after the launch of the public charging stations at a dozen Dubai Electricity and Water Authority offices, with one at Dubai Silicon Oasis and 3 more ready to use next month.
The authority plans to roll out another 84 charging stations by the year-end based on demand in malls, airports, government offices and near residential communities. A full recharge is expected to take around two to four hours.
“We have provided this infrastructure and taken the initiative to bring this to the country,” said Saeed Mohammed Al Tayer, Dewa’s chief executive.
“This is the start of Dewa implementing a pioneering electric vehicle charging station infrastructure initiative. It is an important step towards achieving the objectives of a sustainable smart city and transforming Dubai into the smartest city in the world.”
The authority had budgeted Dh10 million for the 100 charging stations.
“We had budgeted Dh10 million but now we are floating the tender and will get the prices so then we will know the cost,” said Waleed Salman, Dewa’s executive vice president of strategy and business development.
A charge will take between 2-4 or 6-8 hours. In phase two, fast charging stations will be added at petrol stations taking just 30 minutes.
Like in Europe and the US, the authority estimates most users will plug in their cars overnight in their home’s garage, usually taking 6-8 hours to charge the battery fully.
Motorists can obtain Dewa cards for use at public charging stations and this, along with home charging costs, can be paid with monthly Dewa bills.
Those without existing Dewa accounts can obtain an ID card and pay post-paid fees as per consumption.
“Most cars will be charged at home and during the day if they find the battery is low, they will go to the closest charging station,” Mr Salman said.
Despite the low cost of petrol in the UAE, officials are confident electric cars will catch on.
“It’s cheaper to go with electric because there is no maintenance, only replacement of tyres, and so you will spend 50 per cent less on maintenance than for a normal car.
“It depends on the car but roughly if you drive 100km it may cost you Dh3. We are not looking at only today but at 2020 and 2030 we will see a big number of electric cars in the region.”
There are several registered electric car users in the UAE, Mr Salman said, but he could not provide figures.
BMW’s i8 plug-in hybrid sports car has been available in the UAE since last year while the fully electric Renault Zoe will soon be available and Nissan is also testing electric cars in the Emirates.
Toyota’s Camry hybrid vehicles are being used by Cars Taxi in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
Stations located at the Dewa head office near Wafi mall and Sustainable Building in Al Quoz are solar powered. Other sites include Dewa offices in Al Wasl, Al Hudaiba, Burj Nahar, Umm Ramool, Jebel Ali and another in Dubai Silicon Oasis.
The three stations due to begin operation next month include another at Dubai Silicon Oasis and two in Dubai Design District. Each station can simultaneously charge two vehicles.
“The inauguration of the first electric vehicle charging station in Dubai is a momentous occasion for Dubai,” said Stathis Stathis, managing director of AGMC.
Part of the government’s smart, clean city drive, the launch will attract more manufacturers to Dubai, officials believe.
“It will not be an issue for us to cater even to 200-300 customers,” said Majid Ali Hilal, Dewa manager. “Since we launched the initiative, people are already asking us about it and the infrastructure will soon be ready.”