Five months on from the launch of their electric cars in the UAE, Tesla is making media waves globally, but on a region reliant on oil, would you buy one?
Clearly, the UAE has quickly turned into one of the biggest prospective markets for this Californian car-manufacturer whose production is solely reliant on electric cars. And it is no surprise, that governments globally are embracing the new technology with the UK advising that only electric cars will be on sale by 2040.
With the electric car market booming exponentially in such a short time, it’s only natural that potential consumers are pondering the pros and cons of investing in an electric vehicle (EV). CarSwitch has prepared this quick guide to help people make an informed decision.
Perhaps the biggest appeal of electric vehicles is their convenient recharging capability. No more waiting in queues at a fuel station! Once you invest in a home charger, all you need do is pull into your garage or driveway, plug in your car and voila, you are done! Wake up the next morning to a fully recharged vehicle ready to drive for more than 130 kilometres, depending on the model. When it comes to public charging, the good news is that Dubai Electric and Water Authority (DEWA) has installed nearly 200 charging stations across the Emirates, some in key shopping malls like the Dubai Mall and The Beach in JBR. At some of these stations, full charging takes only 20-40 minutes.
The rate for public charging is 29 fils per KWh according to DEWA’s CEO, Saeed Al Tayer. Even in an oil-rich country like the UAE, electric cars still deliver “competitive” mileage (0.18 per km) compared to traditional fuel-dependent cars (0.15 per km). When you consider DSOA (Dubai Silicon Oasis Authority) free charging stations the numbers for EV are even more favourable. To top it off, since electric vehicles don’t need an oil change and don’t have any exhaust system, their maintenance costs are exceptionally low.
Smooth and Noiseless Ride
Traditional cars may seem noisy in comparison with electric cars which barely make a sound. Can you imagine a car making less noise than an average human voice? Yes, it’s that quiet! Considering that these cars are surprisingly quick as well, that may come as a surprise. With electric vehicles power is delivered immediately to the wheels resulting in an exhilarating ride.
No Carbon Emissions
Generation of electricity to run the electric car will, of course, produce some emissions but given that the UAE is gas-dependent, electricity generation at grid level is more efficient and eco-friendly than independent car burn. As the government invests in more green energy sources, electric cars will automatically become even more sustainable.
Long Refuelling Time
For an average electric car, an hour of charging from a 240-volt source of electricity yields 30-40 km of runtime. If the user remembers to plug in the car every night before going to sleep, that fact won’t put a damper on their daily plans. What’s more, public DC quick chargers capable of adding around 80kms of range with 20-25 minutes of charging are increasingly becoming available so this con will diminish over time.
Given that a fully charged electric car typically runs around 130-160 kilometers, users sometimes experience what has been termed ‘Range Anxiety’. Long trips are likely more difficult in an electric vehicle (EV) given the limited number of recharging stations in the UAE, however with advance planning a challenge that can be managed.
Lack of Choices
Sadly, there are not that many electric vehicles in the market to choose from. Several auto manufacturers have set up aggressive production goals now to introduce electric cars at scale (e.g., Volvo announced mass scale EVs by 2019). Currently, Tesla is the leading contender in the market resulting in limited choices. If you love Tesla cars, however, that’s clearly not an issue.
Higher Upfront Cost
Currently, most electric cars are priced in the range of $30k-$40k meaning they are considerably higher in cost compared to gas-powered vehicles in similar categories. The flagship Tesla model S (sedan) has a starting cost of AED 275,000 for the basic trim. However, the latest Tesla 3 model, which will be available later this year, starts at AED 128,000. Considering that a new Honda Accord costs only a little less, electric cars are not as expensive as people have been led to believe. Especially if you consider the total cost of ownership (lower maintenance costs).
To sum things up, potential government subsidies for electric car owners in a bid to make the UAE eco-friendlier, combined with the interest of companies like Tesla, has contributed to the increasing popularity of electric cars in the region. Given the many advantages of electric cars over traditional fuel-dependent vehicles, we can expect to see a lot more of them running around the roads of the UAE in the coming years.