Rising fuel prices in UAE: Meet the residents opting for electric vehicles to cut costs

Between 2020 and 2021, the number of electric cars doubled, making the industry one of the few that grew during the pandemic

By Nasreen Abdulla

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Published: Fri 6 May 2022, 11:17 AM

Last updated: Sat 7 May 2022, 9:06 AM

With fuel prices rocketing and cars getting more expensive, many UAE residents are turning to electric vehicles (EVs) to manage their expenses.

Nineteen-year-old Shireen Mansoor was excited to get her first car as a gift from her parents. “It was an electric vehicle and I had to wait about three months to get it,” she said.

“The time my car was delivered coincided with the rise in fuel prices. Suddenly, mine became the family car. It was used to drop my siblings to school, for grocery shopping, for long drives and pretty much everything else. I have had the car for a little over two months and it has already done over 9,000km. I am wondering who the gift really was for."

Kevin Chalhoub, CEO and Founder of EV Lab, said the EV industry has shifted considerably since the Covid-19 pandemic.

According to the figures released by Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) earlier this year, the number of registered electric vehicles increased from 71 on December 31, 2015, to 5,107 vehicles on January 31, 2022.

“Between 2020 and 2021, the number of electric cars doubled, making EV one of the very few industries that grew during the pandemic," he said. “Even at the beginning of 2020, there weren’t many EV options available. Now, consumers are spoilt for choice. Apart from many leading car makers, like Audi, Porsche and GM, making electric vehicles, there are new entrants in the field. In fact, this is probably the most exciting period in the automotive industry since the car was invented.”

Rafeeq Siddiqui, 74, switched to an EV last year. “I have driven pretty much every car on the market and there were none that stood out to me,” he said. “I began reading up about electric vehicles in 2019 and it piqued my interest. I also wanted to do what little I could do for the environment. I finally got mine in mid 2020. Initially, making the transition from SUVs to a Tesla sedan was a little difficult, but I got used to it. To be honest, I feel like it was the best decision in my life.”

“The only disadvantage I feel is that I am not used to this kind of acceleration. So, within one week of getting the car, I was driving on Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Road, and I got three fines in five minutes. I didn’t even realise I was over speeding.”

According to Chalhoub, there are many factors that support the rising use of electric vehicles in the UAE.

“Unlike in Europe or US, where people often commute very long distances, most of the car rides in the UAE are short,” he said. “One of the biggest concerns surrounding electric vehicles is the car running out of charge in the middle of a trip. From the UAE, one of the longest trips you could probably take is to Oman. Other than that, most rides including Dubai-Abu Dhabi trips are fairly short and can be completed without a recharge in between.”

Dr Ahmed Namshir, who bought his electric vehicle in 2019, drives from Dubai to Abu Dhabi every day. Despite some inconvenience in charging, he is thankful for the investment he made.

“I don’t have a charging station in my building,” he said. “So, I charge my car at the shopping mall opposite my house. Every day, my wife takes me to and from the mall. It is a minor inconvenience, but I am not complaining. I drive about 7,000km in a month. In fuel charges alone, I am saving Dh5,000. I think driving an electric car has become easier in recent times since there are more chargers around.

"For example, if I am not able to charge the car overnight, I need to leave my house 10 minutes early, just like I would if I have to fill petrol. I can then use the superchargers at the Last Exit. This will take me the entire ride to Abu Dhabi and back. Paying for the charging is also easy. In Dubai, the charging is linked to your Dewa account. I pay approximately Dh250 per month for my car charging.”

5 things to consider when shopping for an electric car

1. Range: This is how many kilometres the car can cover with a single charge. Most electric cars have a range between 100 and 400km. Depending on your needs, pick one that is best for you.

2. Chargers: Where are the chargers closest to your home? Can you get one installed in your building? If yes, how much will it cost? These are important questions to ask yourself before making the decision to buy.

3. Costs: Calculate the cost of the car and the cost of maintaining it. Salik registration is free for EVs and parking in Dubai is free until July 2022. Charging costs are linked to Dewa and depends on the battery as well as the kilometres driven. Compare and contrast this to the costs of a fuel car and make an informed decision.


4. Ease and availability of spare parts: While some of the EV-only manufacturers face delays in sourcing and transporting spare parts, it is relatively easier to find parts for electric cars made by brands that also make fuel cars. Ensure that you research the wait times for spare parts and question the automakers before making a choice.

5. Brands: There are several new brands in the market making electric vehicles. Make sure to explore all options and look into the history of each car maker before buying.

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