UAE: Electric vehicles necessary for growth of smart, sustainable cities, says Masdar official

He speaks at Electric Vehicle Innovation Summit, which sheds light on latest innovations, creative solutions, challenges to mass transition to these vehicles


Ashwani Kumar

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Published: Tue 30 May 2023, 5:26 PM

Last updated: Tue 6 Jun 2023, 7:19 PM

Electric vehicles are necessary for smart and sustainable cities to thrive, Masdar City’s head of master planning said at the Electric Vehicle Innovation Summit (EVIS) 2023.

The three-day event shed light on the latest EV innovations, creative solutions, and challenges that stand in the way of a mass transition to electric vehicles.

“Walking and cycling are by far the most sustainable transportation options,” said Lukas Sokol. “At Masdar City, in addition to adding lots of outdoor shade, we’ve kept businesses, educational institutions, and residential assets in close proximity to encourage walking, cycling, and scootering as primary mobility options. But because it’s often not realistic for people to cross an entire city on foot, cities that want to be smart and sustainable need to factor EVs into the transport, transit, and last-mile equation.”

Masdar City, which has been pioneering sustainable development since it broke ground 15 years ago, understood early on the importance of incorporating electric vehicles in its mobility infrastructure to support its vision of a healthy, modern, and eco-friendly city.

During a presentation titled ‘E-Mobility Infrastructure Eco-System’, Sokol explained that the rapid expansion and unique model of Masdar City was made possible through a holistic urban design approach that created balance between sustainability, clean-tech, supporting tech startups, and quality of life.

In 2008, the city introduced its personal rapid transit (PRT) electric vehicles, which transport passengers in four-person pods on an underground track from the city’s North Car Park to the downtown core, called the podium. The transit system was considered the first publicly accessible autonomous EV system in the world.

“We refer to the first-generation PRT as the history of the future; it has been in operation for 15 years and has carried over two and a half million people,” said Sokol.

The use of EVs at Masdar City continued to evolve. The second generation of PRT, called NAVYA, launched in 2018, and could safely interact with pedestrians in the public realm. It transports people on top of the podium, which is a car-free environment. In 2019, Masdar City became the first location in the world to offer Teslas for car-sharing through ekar.

“We are still exploring innovations in autonomous EVs and how they can be better integrated into the urban fabric. Current advancements in technology are quite exciting. We are seeing autonomous EVs that have the capability to drive on main streets and are not limited to private developments,” Sokol added.


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