A network of electric car-charging stations to be rolled out over the next 21 months will encourage more motorists to purchase eco-friendly vehicles.
Owners of electric and hybrid cars will also be able to plug in their vehicle for free at about 30 car parks this year in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah, as part of a promotional drive.
This will kick off in May with a free charging station in a prime Dubai location, according to GreenParking, a local company selected by the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority as one of the main suppliers of electric charging stations.
Motorists will be able to charge their cars as they shop for between two to four hours, company officials said. The location will be disclosed later.
"By the end of 2016 at the latest, Dubai should have good infrastructure to enable people to decide whether to buy electric cars or not,” said Sam Alawiye, the chief executive of GreenParking.
"The most important thing is what the government is doing now, and that is providing the infrastructure, because once the infrastructure exists it will push people to look at this technology. If you are considering buying an electric car you must be sure there are stations to charge the car.”
In February, Dewa launched a dozen public charging stations at its offices, with four more coming online this month.
The authority has also announced plans for an additional 84 charging stations by the year-end at malls, airports, residential communities and hotels.
"By transforming Dubai into the smartest city in the world, we aim to provide smart, instant, and seamless services available anytime, anywhere,” said Saeed Al Tayer, Dewa's chief executive.
"We have provided this infrastructure and taken the initiative to bring this to the country. This is the start of Dewa implementing a pioneering electric vehicle-charging station infrastructure.”
The first two stations installed by GreenParking at Dewa offices have been operational since February 25. There are eight electric chargers at Dewa sites in Jebel Ali Industrial Area Centre, Al Quoz Customer Service Centre, Al Wasl, Al Hudaiba and Umm Ramool.
Each station can charge two vehicles simultaneously. Payment is either via a card from Dewa or is added to monthly home utility bills. The charges are according to the normal power tariff.
The 84 charging stations to come up this year will be installed and operated by GreenParking and companies from Portugal, Germany and Ireland.
An inhibiting factor so far has been the high cost of electric cars and the low petrol prices in the UAE when compared to Europe, where high fuel costs prompt motorists to switch to electric or hybrid cars.
"The price here is 30 per cent higher than normal cars,” said Mr Alawiye.
"The big push will happen if government entities as role models promote the technology by going for electric cars.”
To encourage the concept, free charging points will be provided in May.
"Consumer awareness about electric cars is still low, so people need to be encouraged and motivated to go for this technology,” said Adham Ghandour, GreenParking's head of sales and projects.
"Some of our car parks are big and some are small, so we will have between one and two chargers. This is apart from Dewa's plans, but it is our own strategy to raise awareness and make it more popular.”
About 25 car parks in Dubai, four in Abu Dhabi and two in Sharjah will feature the free charging units this year.
"Normally people take two hours in a car park. That is enough to charge – 50 per cent of battery – and is enough to keep you going for the day,” said Mr Alawiye.
The company also urges the use of parking tokens instead of paper tickets.
About 3,670 trees have been saved over the past 10 years in the UAE, since the company began using chips instead of tickets.
Source: The National