Dubai: Al-Futtaim Motors thinks hydrogen may be the fuel of electric cars, at least in the Middle East.
“Instead of having fuelling stations with petrol there will be fuelling stations with hydrogen and it can be created from fossil fuel, natural gas, solar power and biogas. The Middle East can become a good source of hydrogen and can be a good revenue source when exported,” said Saud Abbasi, managing director for Toyota at Al-Futtaim Motors.
However, he said that there are challenges as the fuelling infrastructure needs to improve and 60 per cent of the vehicles sold here are SUVs.
There is only one hydrogen fuelling station in the Middle East at Dubai Festival City, he said and added that Adnoc, Masdar, Air Liquide, Al-Futtaim Motors and Toyota have formed an alliance to test the Japanese automaker’s Mirai electric vehicle in the UAE.
12mhybrids sold globally by Toyota this year.
Mirai is a 100 per cent electric vehicle and creates electricity using hydrogen, oxygen (from the air) and a fuel cell. “Al-Futtaim is working on expanding the network of hydrogen stations through active cooperation and collaboration with government authorities and partnering companies in the UAE,” he said.
Dewa, in February, signed a deal with Siemens to produce clean hydrogen through solar cells, he said.
“As more fuelling infrastructure comes online, we will be looking at bringing different products into the market but it will all be in the pilot phase. It will have the same journey we had with the hybrid vehicles,” he said.
Al-Futtaim brought the hybrid vehicles into the UAE in 2008. Since 2012, it has sold 1,200 Camry hybrid taxis.
This year, he said that Toyota has globally sold more than 12 million hybrids and the intention is to sell 15 million by 2020.
“The impact of having 15 million hybrids on the road translates into 90 million fewer tonnes of carbon dioxide, that is 29 million kilolitres of gasoline saved. Toyota’s global perspective is that by 2025, all Toyota vehicles will either be electric or will have an electrified option,” he said.
The UAE is one of the few countries in the world where Mirai is tested. The cars are sold in Japan and California.
Abbasi said that the Mirai is expected to come to commercial-scale selling in the UAE past 2020.
“Right now, our focus is to see which car we should be bringing in and where to source hydrogen from. Once we understand the demand structure and the business model, we will be launching it here,” he said.
Moreover, he said that hydrogen is more recognised as a future energy source and a replacement of fossil fuel.