Al Futtaim is going quite the distance with its electric vehicle ambitions, launching a new company, aligning with BYD for its entry into UAE, and launching charging networks. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: The Chinese electric carmaker BYD is launching in the UAE through an alliance with Al-Futtaim, thus opening more options and price range for UAE’s car owners when it comes to EVs.

BYD recorded unit sales of 1.86 million NEVs (or New Energy Vehicle) in 2022, and sees the Gulf markets as offering the right sort of conditions to pursue more growth outside of China. The models are already retailing in Europe, Japan, South Korea and the US.

As with Tesla, BYD too takes direct control over all aspects of the production and the battery to power the vehicles.

As for Al Futtaim, the company has launched a new entity – Al Futtaim Electric Mobility Company – to oversee what should be an expanding interest in the EV space.

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“The new company was not just created to respond to a market demand,” said Hasan Nergiz, Managing Director for the entity. “It has been created to address a growing call from global governments, and especially the UAE leadership, to create actionable strategies for sustainable mobility and make a valuable contribution towards Net Zero objectives.

Our goal is to accelerate sales of new energy vehicles from 3% today to 30% by 2030 and install 3,000 charging stations in the same timeframe.

- Hasan Nergiz of Al Futtaim Electric Mobility Company

"e-mobility is the inevitable future, and we must act now to ensure we continue to succeed in this evolving landscape.

“Our mission is to democratize the EV market, by giving more people access to advanced e-mobility products and services, and as a result, empower more people to contribute to the green mobility agenda.”

Can Chinese EV makers bring down prices?
‘While we can’t comment on others, in the case of BYD we know it is in a unique position to offer more affordable EVs as it is already an established new energy vehicle brand in the huge Chinese market. It already has a strong base in terms of volumes and is already leading in many advanced markets like the Europe, US, Japan and Korea.

Secondly, it isn’t just an automotive company, BYD is a manufacturing company engaged in diverse industries like rail transit, renewable energy and electronics. Most importantly, it is the only company to have the full EV industrial chain under one manufacturing roof, including batteries, electric motors, electronic controllers, and semi-conductors.’

- Hasan Nergiz, Managing Director, Al-Futtaim Electric Mobility Company

BYD model range

The Chinese manufacturer comes with an extended range, which includes SUVs. That broad model line-up will carry a lot of weight with potential buyers, especially as this comes with the promise of a wider price range. More accessible prices are seen an absolutely vital to get more UAE car owners to switch from fuel to electric.

According to Nergiz, the UAE is already in such a transition. “In fact, the UAE ranks eight globally in terms of readiness for electric mobility,” he said. (This is based on a report by the consultancy Arthur D. Little, which evaluated such a readiness in five categories: macroeconomic factors, competitive landscape, customer readiness, public charging infrastructure and total cost of ownership and regulation.”

“The UAE EV market is expected to grow at a rate of 30 per cent annually until 2028, which represents a significant growth and market potential,” said Nergiz. “The UAE government is also emphasizing the shift to green mobility, most notably under the Net Zero 2050 Strategic Initiative, which will see an investment of Dh600 billion in clean and renewable energies.

“EVs are expected to play a part in this programme, as transport is one of the biggest contributors to carbon emissions.”

Targets set for fleets

In the UAE, targets are already running for EVs to be integrated into taxi fleets and public transportation.

BYD launches

Two BYD models - the Han and Atto 3 - were unveiled at event in Dubai late on Wednesday (March 15), and with ‘more detailed announcements expected in a few months’. The plans are to launch four models (EVs and plug-in hybrids) by the end of this year. A product launch is ‘already planned for the third quarter of the year’.

According to A. D. Huang, General Manager of BYD, “As of February 2023, we have saved over 29 billion kilogram of carbon emissions, and this continues with our introduction of bringing better and more zero carbon solutions into the UAE.”

More to follow…