Masdar City and ekar announce strategic partnership to bring first Tesla car-share operation to the Middle East
Masdar City and ekar announce strategic partnership to bring first Tesla car-share operation to the Middle East Image Credit: Supplied

Abu Dhabi: The UAE-founded ekar has announced a strategic partnership with Masdar on Sunday to bring electric vehicle car-sharing to the Middle East by introducing five Tesla models S and X into its fleet.

The vehicles are now available to hire from Masdar City in Abu Dhabi.

“At Masdar, we recognise the value to our community of car-sharing, both economically and in terms of its reduced environmental footprint. Because the ekar platform is scalable, we’re looking forward to introducing more electric vehicles into our car-share fleet in the future,” said Yousef Baselaib, executive director of Sustainable Real Estate at Masdar.

Users of the dedicated ekar app are now able to rent a Tesla Model S or Model X by the minute, meaning they can enjoy the benefits of driving an electric vehicle without actually buying one.

After selecting the Tesla model of their choice, users collect the vehicle from an exclusive Masdar City charging station, before returning it to the nearest station for the next customer.

Today’s announcement follows Masdar’s £35 million investment into the Charging Infrastructure Investment Fund, which aims to expand the number of rapid charging points publicly available to electric vehicle owners in the United Kingdom. Masdar’s partnership with ekar is further of its investment to promote low-carbon transport solutions in the UAE.

“The launch of this new service expands upon our existing portfolio of sustainable mobility solutions, which includes the Personal Rapid Transit (PRT) system and the NAVYA Autonom Shuttle,” Baselaib said.

“Furthermore, it demonstrates how cities can integrate multiple transport solutions to meet the needs of their residents, tenants and visitors sustainably,” he added.

For his part, Vilhelm Hedberg, chief executive officer of ekar Middle East, said the partnership with Masdar was part of the company’s long-term strategy of having its full fleet of cars going electric by 2025.

“Our vision at ekar is to have 5 per cent of our fleet electric by 2020, to be fully electric by 2025, and fully autonomous by 2030. In order to achieve this goal it is crucial to align with innovators such as Masdar.

“Following on from initiatives such as that of Masdar City, we see great opportunity across the Middle East in the field of electric vehicle car-shares,” he added.

“The GCC has shown its commitment to grow the infrastructure needed to accommodate electric vehicles. For example, currently there are 50 charging stations in Abu Dhabi and 100 in Dubai, and this number is set to dramatically increase in the next 5 years,” Hedberg said.