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Series: Join the UAE tech boom – Part 3: Electric vehicles

electric vehicle

There can be no doubt: the future of transport lies in moving away from fossil fuels to electric vehicles (EVs). The UAE was not the first to welcome this new reality – but having fully embraced the challenge of decarbonisation it is well on the way to becoming one of the top adopters of e-mobility.

This is welcome news for entrepreneurs as well as environmentalists. A transformation of the country’s transport infrastructure leaves a lot of opportunities for tech startups – whether that’s in the area of improved charging technology, vehicle electronics, consumer-focused apps or much more besides.

It’s not just reassuring-sounding government rhetoric: there is also public appetite in the UAE for e-mobility. A recent report suggested that 82% of potential buyers in the UAE would consider an EV, rising to 90% for a hybrid. The sight of the Tesla, BMWi3s and the Nissan Leaf on the UAE’s roads is now a familiar one. Even the Covid-19 pandemic does not appear to have stopped the tide, with global sales rising 43% during 2020.

Here are just some of the concrete steps the government is taking to push the growth of EVs still further.

  • Direct mandates: Through the Dubai Clean Energy Strategy 2050 – the aim of which is to produce 75% of the emirate’s power through clean energy – the Dubai Supreme Council of Energy had mandated that 10% of all new cars in the emirate must be electric or hybrid by 2020. Furthermore, it says 10% of all cars should be green by 2030. The Roads and Transport Authority has also been working to convert 50% of the taxi fleet to hybrid cars by 2021.
  • Incentive schemes: To push these targets, the government has ensured there are clear benefits to consumers for going electric. For instance, those registered for Green Charger services can charge their vehicles at public charged stations free-of-charge across Dubai until 31 December 2021. It has also passed a law to provide free public parking for EVs.
  • Accelerating change: The aim of the government’s EV Accelerator Initiative is to remove any barriers associated with the introduction of EVs in the UAE – whether cultural, financial or infrastructural. This includes having EV charging stations throughout the city – with multiple charging points at Dubai Silicon Oasis – helping to ensure a smooth transition to cleaner transport across the Emirates.

From the startup point of view, there are many ways to get a piece of the EV pie; it’s not all about manufacturing the cars and their related components. Selfdrive.Ae, for example, is a tech-driven e-commerce portal based in DTEC that enables people to rent a car online and much of its fleet now consists of EVs. Then there is EV Lab, launched just last year as an ‘omnichannel, multi-brand electric vehicle platform’ that aims to encourage consumers to make the switch to electric by simplifying the process.

Of course, there’s still plenty of work to be done. While the cost of EVs is dropping there is a way to go before they are comparable with petrol-powered cars. But this is all the more reason to jump on the EV wave now, while the potential for innovation and scale-up is wide open.

That wraps up our third in this series on the UAE tech boom. Stay tuned for the fourth and final in the series, which will be on e-commerce. To catch up on all our past content just visit our blog here.