Tesla's UAE launch is a game-changer


In the last two years, Dubai Government has been investing in developing the electric and hybrid vehicles market as part of its Green Mobility Initiative. It was announced that at least ten percent of large fleets operated by government bodies would be electric and hybrid cars. Dubai Electric and Water Authority (DEWA) had launched a network of 100 charging stations for electric vehicles (EVs) across Dubai since 2015. However, when compared to more advanced markets in Europe or the US, the EV market here is still in its infancy.
The launch of Tesla this week in the UAE will change that.
Elon Musk, founder of Tesla, was in Dubai for the World Government Summit during which time he met major decision makers including the ruler Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum. Tesla will be opening a shop and service centre in Dubai this year and in Abu Dhabi next year. In the meantime, the company has started taking online orders from customers in the UAE and has set up a pop-up store in Dubai Mall. It was announced that the company will be investing tens of millions of dollars in developing the charging, service and support infrastructure for EVs in the UAE.
In the land of cheap petrol, switching customers from petrol to electric would be a major challenge for Tesla. Elon Musk accepted this point but mentioned that consumer petrol prices have been increasing in the last few years in the region. A full recharge would cost around $10, almost a third of the price of filling a large petrol tank. Also, the overall servicing and operational costs of an electric car tend to be less.
Addressing concerns about the intense heat in the UAE (which tends to reduce battery life for EVs), Musk mentioned that the Tesla cars have withstood testing in Death Valley, California, the hottest place on earth. In fact, the batteries come with a 8-year warranty.
The other concern is that most of the charging stations in the UAE are only in Dubai and the other Emirates have not yet developed the infrastructure to support a long distance round trip. In this regard, Musk made the bold claim that by next year, customers would be able to drive anywhere in the Gulf in an electric car.
Tesla has announced a number of exciting tie-ups with major hotel chains and retail developers to ensure that the network of charging stations for their vehicles would be widely available. Two supercharger stations have been set up at the Last Exit in Jebel Ali and Masdar City in Abu Dhabi, with five more planned before the end of the year. There are also 26 Tesla destination chargers operating across the country, including at hotels and malls, with another 50 to be added before next year. They are planning to double charging sites by the end of the year and extend into Bahrain, Oman, Qatar and Saudi Arabia.
With the Government’s support and Tesla’s investments, we should see a steep growth in the electric vehicles market in the UAE. Especially as electric car makers servicing the lower end of the market will also jump in, electric will start becoming the norm rather than the novelty.

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