An electric vehicle charging station. Dubai has already flipped the switch on 100 electric-car charging stations. Image Credit: Gulf News Archives

Dubai: Thousands of cars to be ordered in the next few years by Dubai government bodies will be electric as part of a new target to make 10 per cent of civic fleets electric vehicles by 2020.

Reporting to the Supreme Energy Council, an Executive Electric Car Committee and a Technical Electric Car Committee are charged with achieving the benchmark in order to slash carbon emissions in Dubai within the next four years.

“We have a target of 16 per cent [carbon reduction] by 2020. I’m sure down the road, it will be decreased even more. In the near future, we hope to achieve an even bigger target,” said Waleed Salman, executive vice-president, Strategy and Business Development with Dubai Water and Electricity Authority (Dewa) since 2007.

In February 2015, Dewa launched its first charging station for electric cars in its headquarters. Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News Archives

A 20-year veteran of the energy sector, Salman is also a member of the Dubai Supreme Council of Energy and chairman of Dubai Carbon Centre of Excellence and Dubai Green Economy Partnership.

Salman told Gulf News that the committees are made up of energy and environmental experts from Dewa, Roads and Transport Authority (RTA), Dubai Police, and Emirates Authority for Standardisation and Metrology (Esma).

“Of all the new procurement of vehicles, 10 per cent will go to electric cars only,” Salman said in an interview. “Dubai is going in the right direction. It will happen very fast. In a few years, you will see a big difference on Dubai roads.”

Dubai has already flipped the switch on 100 electric-car charging stations with more promised in the months ahead and some government bodies such as Dewa having already purchased a number of electric cars for everyday use by staff.

Dubai energy officials, meanwhile, have worked with electric-car companies such as Tesla to ensure that the UAE is on the approved pre-order list for the Model 3, a new Tesla vehicle that has electrified global interest in eco-friendly cars with 325,000 pre-order reservations worth $14 billion (Dh51.42 billion) booked recently.

Listed as the only Middle East country able to order the vehicle from Tesla’s online reservation page, customers can order the basic vehicle for $35,000 and have it shipped directly to the UAE.

The inclusion in the latest electric-car movement is a strong sign that Dubai is on the right track in its pursuit of welcoming electric cars to its roads as part of a sustainable green future, said a senior official.

“We made big efforts with them {Tesla} to make sure the UAE is one of the countries they are working with,” Salman said.

The new committees are working on new ideas to create government incentives to encourage people to buy electric cars instead of traditional petrol-powered vehicles, Salman said.

Giving electric-car owners special perks could help drive Dubai toward cleaner air and a greener economy, he said.

“This is a new boost. We are speaking with RTA to get parking for free for electric vehicles,” Salman said.

Other efforts under way involve innovative new technologies that will make electric cars more practical for every day driveability by owners with busy itineraries.

Current electric chargers, for example, can take up to 15 minutes at existing charging stations and much longer for lower-output home chargers that plug into the vehicle from the home’s electric system, Salman said.

But one new technology could mean charging a vehicle in only minutes, he said, without the need to plug in cumbersome cords or wires.

“We are looking at technology with faster chargers,” Salman said. “In R&D, we are testing induction. There is a mat and you park [over it]. It charges without putting in any wires.”


Electric cars now mainstream, says Tesla

Electric car manufacturer Tesla says electric cars have now gone mainstream following the global hype around its new Model 3 in April and beyond.

On its website, Tesla confirmed that in that month it had received “more than 325,000 reservations, which corresponds to about $14 billion in implied future sales, making this the single biggest one-week launch of any product ever. This interest has spread completely organically. Unlike other major product launches, we haven’t advertised or paid for any endorsements. Instead, this has been a true grass-roots effort driven by the passion of the Tesla team that’s worked so hard to get to this point and our current and future customers who believe so strongly in what we are trying to achieve. Most importantly, we are all taking a huge step towards a better future by accelerating the transition to sustainable transportation”.