Careem launches fleet of electric delivery bikes in Dubai

First phase of carbon-neutral motorcycles will be on the city's roads later this month

Careem is launching the first phase of its roll out of electric delivery bikes. Photo: Careem
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Careem has announced it is to introduce electric delivery bikes on Dubai's roads by the end of the month.

The move is part of a drive towards providing carbon-neutral transport options in the emirate.

The company declined to say how many electric motorbikes would be introduced in the first phase, but a senior figure at Careem said the goal was to have 1,000 electric bikes on the emirate's roads by the end of next year.

“It's very important to us to improve our region and one way of doing this is to support the net-zero objectives of the UAE,” said Sami Amin, senior director of operations for Careem Bike.

Careem, which operates a ride-hailing app and a food delivery service, uses combustion engine motorbikes for its delivery riders, referred to by the company as captains.

“Traditionally our services rely on combustion engines, which are very expensive to operate and, of course, a major contributor to pollution,” he said. “Electric delivery bikes will improve both.”

Mr Amin said there were several benefits to making the switch to electric bikes.

“[It will] allow us to hopefully continue to drop our delivery costs, which might translate to a cost-saving to our customer by improving the operating costs of our captains,” he said.

“It's going to help us to reduce our carbon footprint as well; we want to keep pushing that down.”

The move towards reducing the company's carbon footprint comes as the UAE hosts the Cop28 climate change conference, which ends on Tuesday, in Expo City Dubai.

Dubai announced plans to achieve a 50 per cent reduction in emissions by 2030 last week.

In 2021, the UAE unveiled its Net Zero 2050 Strategic Initiative, a Dh600 billion ($163.37 billion) plan to invest in clean and renewable energy sources over the next three decades.

It was the first Gulf country to commit to achieving net-zero emissions by 2050.

Reducing costs

Another aspect of the move towards carbon-neutral transport is that it will reduce the costs for delivery riders.

Careem's riders pay for their fuel, a standard practice across the industry, but the company estimates using battery-powered bikes will save them at least 15 per cent a month.

The riders will be able to sign up for a monthly subscription service that will allow them unlimited battery swaps.

The batteries will be located at several different stations throughout Dubai, Mr Amin added.

The new electric bikes will make up a significant percentage of the firm's overall fleet, Mr Amin said, adding that he could not share the specific numbers for competitive reasons.

Reducing burden on drivers

Any savings that could be made would make a huge difference to the lives of delivery riders, said another expert.

“Because of the fluctuations in price, the riders over the past year have spent between Dh630 and Dh800 per month on fuel directly out of their own pockets,” said Adam Ridgway, founder of OneMoto, who manufactures electric bikes in the UAE.

OneMoto works with several delivery companies in Dubai, providing battery-powered electric bikes.

“We've calculated the riders are saving up to 46 per cent per month, in some cases, by using electric bikes instead of combustion engine bikes,” said Mr Ridgway.

Updated: December 22, 2023, 1:18 PM