Dubai’s Transport to Go Hybrid by 2012

Pratibha Umashankar
Filed on September 1, 2008
Dubai’s Transport to Go Hybrid by 2012

DUBAI - An all-hybrid fleet of taxis and government vehicles, police cars and ambulances could be plying the roads of Dubai by 2012. This follows an agreement inked in November 2007 between Dubai Road and Transport Authority (RTA), General Motors and the Government of Dubai to reduce the impact of pollution on the environment.

Terence B. Johnsson“Run on a combination of fuel and electricity, 10 RTA taxis are already part of the fleet and the initial tests and feedback are very encouraging,” said Terence B. Johnsson, President, GM Middle East Operations, in an exclusive interview with Khaleej Times.

The switch over to hybrid comes in response to an initiative put forward by His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.

The GM and RTA Hybrid Taxi cooperation was the first step taken in a comprehensive plan to reduce pollution caused by vehicles and to make all vehicles in Dubai environmentally friendly and fuel-efficient.

“In the beginning of 2007, Shaikh Mohammed challenged the industry — and Dubai — to step forward and move aggressively with hybrid vehicles. This would include not only the taxi fleet, but also all government vehicles, and thereby set an example for the rest of the consumers,” said Johnsson.

“GM contacted the RTA and offered our help, as we’re fortunate to have a wide range of hybrid and other environmentally friendly vehicles on hand. That began the relationship,” he said.

“What’s interesting about a hybrid vehicle is that more the stop-and-start, more the saving. So it’s ideally suited for Dubai roads,” said Johnsson.

After the first 10 taxis having withstood the test of heat, humidity and dust in the toughest summer months on congested roads, GM concluded its data collection yesterday.

“The feedback has been overwhelming. There’s a very significant saving in both carbon-emission and fuel efficiency.

Once the data is analysed, it’ll take us to phase four, which is when we actually commercialise the opportunity,” he said.

GM subsequently plans to begin bringing the vehicles in high volume to the RTA fleet or to the consumers.

“Between Dubai and Abu Dhabi, the total fleet will be between 6,000 and 10,000 vehicles. The vision for Dubai, as we understand it from the RTA, is to move all this to hybrid by 2012, which means about 5,000 to 6,000 vehicles in Dubai alone will be using hybrid or any other environmentally friendly technology,” said Johnsson.

“From 2009 through 2012 you are going to see the existing taxis phased out and replaced.

Our understanding is that the RTA will move aggressively with qualified hybrid vehicles. The RTA is extremely positive about this.”

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