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Keep building up the public charging docks for EVs. That is high priority to spread the use and buying of EVs. Image Credit: Reuters

When examining the future of mobility, an unequivocal conclusion arises - the industry will become primarily electric as climate-friendly transportation options emerge into prominence. With EVs eliminating gas requirements and related emissions from the equation, mobility could yield invaluable sustainability outcomes and support countries’ respective climate-centric obligations.

But as history illustrates, challenges often precede opportunities. The question of whether the electric vehicle or charging station comes first is becoming more pressing, as are demands for establishing the necessary infrastructure. As such, governments must pursue the factors key to realizing tomorrow’s mobility potential with haste – including those in the GCC.

Advancement - and apprehension

A confluence of huge fossil fuel consumption and increasing traffic congestion have multiplied distress over future energy consumption, economic development, and greenhouse gas (GHG) output among GCC states, with EVs considered viable for overcoming emissions hurdles while propelling net-zero progression. Government policies for widespread EV adoption are projected to instigate sizeable market growth in due course, with multiple countries leading the way.

The UAE’s propensity for innovation has resulted in 200 Telsa EVs being rolled out in Dubai’s public taxi fleet, complementing the government’s vision for promoting green mobility solutions and 25 per cent of journeys being EV-based by 2030. In Saudi Arabia, plans are being pursued to ensure 30 per cent of vehicles on roads within Riyadh are electric by 2030, while the Saudi Arabian Standard Organization (SASO) aims to introduce regulation for EV use, announcing that 5 per cent of parking spaces will be solely designated for EVs.

A committee has been created — headed by the Energy Ministry in Saudi Arabia in co-ordination with government and private agencies and research centers — that aims to study all aspects related to establishing an infrastructure for EVs. These efforts align with a commitment to reduce emissions and conserve national energy resources.

At present, charging stations in almost all countries remain scarce, which EVs depend on. Consumers are skeptical regarding EV migration, fearing issues avoidable with gas-powered cars transpiring, one being power-related breakdowns in light of depletion. Therefore, EV adoption could remain nascent without widespread infrastructure, effectively bringing regional markets and aspirations to a sudden halt.

The GCC is currently as much as 10 years behind Europe in terms of charging infrastructure adoption, and no country can delay ambitions for another decade whilst implementing the necessary frameworks. Hence, collaboration between eco-system players is key for creating an effective, successful EV sector masterplan that dispels today’s charging dilemma.

Tomorrow’s foundations

Despite obstacles to overcome, such efforts between manufacturers, installers, charging point operators, and governments can certainly fulfill their potential. The tech needed to support EV charging infrastructure is already housed within the GCC, representing a robust starting point for developing nationwide supplies and a comprehensive masterplan.

There are factors to consider, questions to answer, and action points to address. While a majority of today’s EV drivers use privately funded chargers either at home or work, forecasts indicate as much as 50 per cent of charging is road and travel-based in the future.

Governments have begun launching projects to meet expected demands, although clear plans and objectives are essential. For instance, private players may encounter fierce competition within highly profitable urban areas, adopt undesirable competing standards, install incompatible technologies, and build redundant charging stations – leaving rural areas and countless highways in a charge-less wilderness.

Government-led direction is imperative for avoiding such occurrences, more so in developing markets, although many are still to design a central coordination mechanism or boast practical, sustainable infrastructure. Market stimulation efforts to date have concentrated on CO2-related regulations or creating EV adoption incentives – attention should turn toward ensuring required charging infrastructure availability nationwide.

This entails entire eco-system coordination through a holistic approach that accommodates several EV industry success factors:

  • Eliminate availability barriers: Governments can facilitate timely availability of public EV charging infrastructure by dispelling permit requirements and easing land accessibility via municipalities.
  • Prevent independent operator actions: By ensuring operators do not establish their access cards and procedures, EV drivers can avail seamless charging point access and easy, simplified experiences.
  • Deploy resources efficiently: Abiding by industry-leading criteria when establishing charging locations will help avoid low utilization levels.
  • Ensure price fairness: Cost differentiation currently apparent across markets can be avoided with fair, transparent, and comparable EV charging prices for all.
  • Provide private market support: Contributing to an attractive, inclusive private charging market could promote a morally competitive landscape where vulnerable or less privileged customers are not left behind.

By leading decisive action involving every EV ecosystem incumbent, GCC governments can build essential infrastructure that encourages widespread EV adoption, overcoming a current dilemma while laying the foundations for long-term sustainability in mobility. Meeting these success factors will continuously drive progression in this direction, ultimately presenting win-win scenarios for all concerned parties.