(MENAFN - The Peninsula) By Satish Kanady I The Peninsula
DOHA: Despite the ongoing global buzz around the electric cars, there are not many takers for these innovative green vehicles in the GCC. Contrary to the global uptake on electric vehicles, the GCC market has been responding lukewarm to the hybrid and electric vehicles (H/EVs). Market experts point out fuel price parity, long-recharging practical difficulties and the regional governments' incentives to fuel as some of the major reasons for this.
Global demand for electric vehicles is expected to surge during the next few decades. 'The market was valued at almost $103bn in 2015 and expected to be close to $400bn by 2024. World hybrid and electric vehicle (H/EV) sales is anticipated to more than double through 2018, reaching 25.6 million units and accounting for nearly 25 percent of all new motor vehicles sold.
Considering the phenomenal transformation, global car industry is undergoing, it would be typical to expect similar trend in the GCC markets. However, contrary to this the uptake on electric vehicles (EV) when compared with other markets has been sluggish in the GCC region, noted ‘Marmore Mena Intelligence'.
One key reason for the region's lack lustre response to H/EV cars is that the fuel prices in the region are low. The electric cars are more economical than petrol cars, for instance, in oil importing countries. Considering the price of the electric cars, and the low fuel prices in the GCC region, the gain from the fuel costs, isn't attractive enough for the buyers to opt for electric cars instead of petrol cars, according market experts at Marmore Mena Intelligence, a subsidiary of ‘Markaz'.
Another major reason not to choose an electric vehicle in the GCC is the absence of sufficient charging infrastructure.
The current range for 2018 Nissan Leaf is around 241-257 kilometers (150-160 miles) with full charge of 40 kWh battery, while the Tesla Model 3 is c.354-498 kilometers (220-310 miles) with full charge 75 kWh.
Though this range has relatively improved compared to the earlier models, absence of enough charging points to charge their cars and the problem of getting stranded in the middle of nowhere is a major concern. There is almost a complete absence of a public charging network in the GCC region.
There are three different types of chargers, ranging from less than 30 minutes to 12 hours. The size of battery and the charging speed are the key factors that determine the time it takes to charge.
The long duration to refuel the car which in conventional case would take a few minutes is a major disincentive for the drivers thinking about shifting to H/EV cars.
In Qatar, early this year, Qatar Electricity and Water Corporation (Kahramaa) opened the first electric car charging station during the launch of the Electric Car Charging Station Project - Phase 1 as part of the Green Car Initiative in the country. The electric car charging station launched at the Kahramaa Awareness Park (KAP) is one of nine stations across Qatar.
By the end of this project, more charging stations will come at various locations including, Kahramaa Headquarters, Marsa Malaz Kempinski, The St. Regis Doha, AlFardan Towers, Qatar Foundation Headquarters, Qatar Science & Technology Park (QSTP), Msheireb Downtown Doha, and Ezdan Mall Al Wakra.
A large share of EV products today meet only the needs of niche consumer segments and miss the true opportunity to serve consumers who want more basic mobility solutions. The premium pricing of the electric vehicles and low petrol prices in the region make it difficult for electric cars to compete.
Public awareness and enthusiasm for EVs needs to grow, and this in turn will encourage governments to maintain public subsidies as EV technology matures.