Electric vehicle sales in UAE could soon cross the 5 per cent mark of overall new car sales. But to get some more speed to the process, EV buyers need to see more charging points. They could soon be getting that. Image Credit: Shutterstock

Dubai: The UAE’s next set of apartment buildings being built will need to have extensive – and easily accessible – charging networks if electric vehicle (EV) sales are to pick up some real speed, according to auto industry sources.

New projects – especially residential towers – in Dubai and Abu Dhabi do factor in EV charging points. But given the density of apartments some of these buildings have, there just may not be enough to for multiple EV users at the same time. More so when it comes to overnight charging.

“That there aren’t enough charging areas in residential buildings is the biggest problem getting in the way of faster adoption of EVs in the UAE,” said Hasan Nergiz, Managing Director at Al Futtaim Electric Mobility Company and dealership for the BYD range. “EVs should soon be around 5-10 per cent of UAE new car sales (including those sold to fleet operators) and has the potential to reach one-third of overall demand in the medium-term.

“For that to happen, developers need to be installing more rather than a limited number of overnight chargers in their residential projects.

Hasan Nergiz, Managing Director, Al Futtaim Electric Mobility Company
“According to calculations in the EU markets, the ideal ratio of public charging points to EVs is 1:10 – the UAE is not there yet.” - Hasan Nergiz Image Credit: Supplied

Help with EV charging should arrive soon

For UAE car buyers planning to switch to an electric vehicle for their next ride, help is on the way. Not from developers as such, but some of the biggest enterprises in the UAE. The tech-telecom entity e& is pushing through with its ‘Charge&Go’ EV charging networks, a project announced at this year’s Gitex.

Dewa has been rolling out its own EV charging points, while an alliance featuring Adnoc Distribution and the Abu Dhabi utility company Taqa have their own version under the ‘E2GO’ branding.

“EVs will become common on UAE roads when these big companies develop their charging stations,” said the general manager at a leading Dubai dealership. “UAE car owners are ready to invest in EVs, and lack of easy access to charging stations had been one big issue. When e& and Adnoc Distribution get cracking on their plans and these stations become common, that’s going to be the moment to kickstart the consumer rush towards EVs.”

Will 2024 be year of EVs and hybrids in UAE car market?
The line up of models answering to the description of EVs and plug-in hybrids is expanding in the UAE auto retail space. When it comes to pricing, a sub-Dh100,000 option is still some distance away, but the models available do tick most boxes when it comes to mid- and high-end options.

Their manufacturers and local dealers are also generating traction from buyers when it comes to the distance range these models can put in. Anything over 400 kilometers on a single charge is seen as a must.

Until a sub-Dh100,00 model comes to market, dealers are also promoting hybrid options extensively. Next year could see a raft of options take up places in showrooms and on the roads.

Laser focus on pricing - and financing

The other issue that had slowed down buyer demand for EVs relates to pricing. That too is being addressed as more dealerships back up their EV launches with tailored financial and after-sales packages.

A brand like China’s BYD – which worldwide is going head-to-head with Tesla to be the EV market leader – is helping with lowering the price points. It’s first model in the UAE, the Atto 3 SUV (with a range of 420 kilometers) sticker price was set at Dh149,000 and backed by a ‘lease-to-own’ plan.

“UAE car owners are still in the process of discovering EVs and how they should go about owning it,” said Nergiz. “By having 3-year lease-to-own schemes, our intention is to smooth out the process and help them take their decisions – faster.”

A second model, the top-of-the-line Han limousine (with a claimed 521 kilometer range), was launched this week. While its price tag is a hefty Dh232,000, the financing scheme comes at a fairly accessible Dh3,635 onwards.

China's BYD is expanding its model line up in the UAE. This week, it launched the Han limo, priced at Dh232,000 and follows the earlier release of the Atto 3 small SUV, which retails Dh149,000. Image Credit: Supplied

BYD will have three more models up for their UAE launches by March next, including two plug-in hybrid options. “The hybrids’ range will extend to a combined 1,000 kilometers, and these are fairly substantial numbers,” said Nergiz. “With EVs and hybrids, if potential owners can be assured of the range, we find they are more likely to come up with a favourable decision.”

All they need more, especially those in apartment buildings, is to have their developers/landlords provide more charging points. If not, there is always going to be e&, Dewa or Adnoc Distribution-Taqa delivering an EV charging station at a point near you…