'E-cars must be sold at lower prices to create mass market' Filed on September 26, 2017 | Last updated on September 26, 2017 at 07.44 pm
 E-cars must be sold at lower prices to create mass market

On Sunday, the Road and Transport Authority (RTA) and Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) announced a slew of incentives for electric cars owners.

The prohibitive cost of electric vehicles (EVs) is the main reason why motorists in Dubai would still prefer fossil-fuel cars over EVs despite the government's efforts to put in place the infrastructure for a shift from hydrocarbon to zero-carbon emission transport.

Talking to Khaleej Times at the Electric Vehicles UAE Conference on Tuesday, Akin Adamson, former regional director of UK-based Transport Research Laboratory and current chairperson of the EV conference, said: "the biggest barrier to this shift is that EVs are much more expensive than petrol or diesel cars."

Adamson said the infrastructure like charging stations in Dubai is not a problem. "Actually, there are now more charging stations in Dubai than EVs on the road. The limiting factor is still the people's willingness to purchase these e-vehicles."

Adamson said in some countries, like UK, subsidies are provided by the government but they are still not enough to sway people in ditching their conventional cars.

He said in UK, prospective EV buyers are given 5,000 but the cost of a Tesla is around 60,000 pounds; after the subsidy, 55,000 is still a hefty amount. Meanwhile, the cheapest e-car in the market, Nissan Leaf, is around 21,000; minus 5,000 subsidy, the remaining 16,0000 is still higher than a petrol sedan which is only 11,000.

Credit: GreenParking EV

He said EVs must be sold at a lower price to create a mass market. When asked if a subsidy is also needed in Dubai to achieve its target of having 32,000 electric and hybrid cars on the road by 2020 and 42,000 by 2030, Adamson said subsidy is not required to reach these goals. "But if Dubai wants to be more aggressive, it can follow the model used by Norway (see box story) which has been giving higher subsidy and incentives to own EVs," he added.

On Sunday, the Road and Transport Authority (RTA) and Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) announced a slew of incentives for electric cars owners, including free car charging until 2019, free designated green parking in Dubai, free electric vehicle registration and renewal fees, free Salik tag and a special licence plate sticker identifying the vehicle as an electric car. Dubai is also working on installing additional 100 charging stations to bring the number up to 200 by 2018.

"The Dubai government is doing a fantastic job in creating the right conditions for electric vehicles owners to enjoy driving in the UAE," said Ben Pullen, co-founder and managing director of Global EVRT, who is organising a nine-day inter-emirate EV road trip in January next year.

"There are many public charging stations and DEWA and RTA have introduced attractive incentives. The main challenge for all of us working in the electric vehicle industry is to raise awareness about electric vehicles and the numerous benefits they have. From our experience, we know that once a driver tries an electric vehicle they are convinced they want to buy or rent one. The acceleration, comfort, and ease of use are exquisite," he told Khaleej Times.

Oslo's success story

Sture Portvik, project leader for electric vehicles, City of Oslo, said in 2008 the capital city of Norway, adopted a ten-point plan to reduce carbon emissions. The introduction of EVs was at the core of the agenda since 61 per cent of its CO2 emission came from the transport sector.

Portvik said EVs must be cheap to buy (no purchasing tax, no VAT); cheap to use (free parking, free electricity, free passing in tool gates)?and convenient to use (easy access to charging).

He noted that the shift to EVs has resulted in high taxes on fossil fuel cars, including 25 per cent value-added tax and one-time registration fee (calculated on the basis of the weight of the vehicle, engine size and carbon emissions. Whereas electric vehicles have no taxes or fees - equivalent to at least 10,000 Euros.

Portvik said in Sweden, which has no tax cuts for EVs, the cost of a Volkswagen Golf (petrol) is 21,000 Euros cheaper than its VW E-Golf counterpart which is around 41,200 Euros. But in Norway, a VW E Golf is just 28,000 Euros.

Tax cuts have also resulted in price of Tesla S Model to go for only 63,000 Euros in Norway as compared to a super car like Camaro which is priced at 172,000 Euros.

Other incentives in Norway for e-cars:

Free access on toll roads (1997) In Oslo 3.5 - 5 Euro National roads and tunnels up to 20.

Free parking (1999) 2 - 5 Euro per hour

Free normal charging (2008) 3- 9 Euro per session

Access to use bus and taxi lanes (2003) Saves 30 min -1 hour per day

Free transport on ferries (2009) 12 - 24 Euro each way

Free use of tunnels (2009) 12 - 24 Euro each way

Charging E-cars

Trading a petrol pump for an electric plug is definitely good for the environment. It is also a new experience and potential EV owners should get a head start on the learning curve.

For starters, Samer Alawiye, CEO of Green Parking, said it is important to note that EV charging is unlike refilling petrol - the former uses smart technology, meaning the EV communicates with the power charger. In simple terms, the power charger sends signal to the car and asks the car how much power is required. When the outside weather is hot, the car will send a longer a message for a longer charging time but as the car charges power, the temperature cools down and the battery needs less time to charge.

Another important thing to note is that EVs do not require full charge to run. An e-car, like a cellphone, will take a shorter time to charge from 0-80 per cent than 81-100 per cent.

All electric cars have what is termed an "onboard charger" in the car itself. So, all you need is to use the charging cord you get with your car to connect your vehicle to a source of electricity.

In the UAE, there are over 100 charging stations supplied to date and another 100 charging stations will come next year. Good news: these charging stations are free to use until 2019.

Angel Tesorero

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