Elon Musk Has a Dream.. and It Starts in Dubai

Published June 4th, 2017 - 09:47 GMT
Elon Musk, the co-founder and chief executive of electric car maker Tesla, speaks during a ceremony in Dubai on February 13, 2017. (Karim Sahib/ AFP)
Elon Musk, the co-founder and chief executive of electric car maker Tesla, speaks during a ceremony in Dubai on February 13, 2017. (Karim Sahib/ AFP)

A new UAE national incentive plan to boost the popularity and sale of emission-free electric cars is being praised by electric car executives in the UAE as a smart road forward to a greener, cleaner future across the emirates.

The incentives will also encourage consumers to buy electric vehicles that can save thousands of dirhams to each car owner in fuel and maintenance costs as compared to traditional petrol vehicles.

Tesla's CEO Elon Musk (right) with Mohammad Al-Gergawi, UAE Minister of Cabinet Affairs and Future, at the World Government Summit 2017 in Dubai on February 13, 2017. (AFP)

Unveiled by Suhail Mohammad Faraj Al Mazroui, Minister of Energy, in Dubai, the new national incentive plan is now working with banks, car manufacturers and insurance companies to provide green offers on their products to entice motorists into the electric vehicle (EV) market.

The national plan calls for 10 percent of car fleets of federal government ministries and agencies to be comprised of electric vehicles to cut greenhouse gases.

Details have yet to be announced but in other countries, government and private sector initiatives are offering incentives such as free or reduced road toll fees, free parking and electricity rebates to encourage traditional petrol-car buyers to plug into the growing EV movement around the world.

Mirroring high praise by Tesla founder Elon Musk during his Dubai visit in February, Peter Bardenfleth-Hansen, Tesla general manager UAE and director of New Markets, told Gulf News in an exclusive interview that the UAE’s vision to embrace zero-emission vehicles is a pioneering path for the future not only here but across the Gulf region.

“It’s good because there is a clear, concise messaging to what the UAE government is doing here. They are going forward and saying sustainable transport is the future. They’re setting goals and incentives to ensure that is the way forward,” Bardenfleth-Hansen told Gulf News. “This will further our mission which is a sustainable future with sustainable energy.”

The UAE is leading by action and setting an ambitious example for other Gulf countries to follow, Bardenfleth-Hansen said, noting that he “UAE is definitely a beacon market in setting new ways and daring to do so. In general, what we see is what the UAE does, GCC will follow. In a domino way, this is great thing. We can already feel the interest from other GCC nations who have definitely raised an eyebrow. We certainly are very happy with the way the UAE government are taking the leadership in this”.

He reassured Tesla fans that the new service centre, set to open near Al Mazaya Centre on the slip road near the Burj Khalifa metro station, is on target for its summer opening “right at the beginning of Q3, we are looking forward to that. This will be a first in the UAE and GCC.”

Interest in the new Tesla electric-car technology has not waned in the UAE and remains strong as future customers await the firm’s arrival.

Emiratis check a vehicle manufactured by Tesla during a ceremony in Dubai, on February 13, 2017. (AFP)

Tesla will introduce its Model S sedan at a cost of Dh275,000 this summer.

“It’s been a very positive experience. When entering markets such as the UAE — which is a very cash-rich market — there is always a risk of that market being overtaken by first movers who want the best and expensive and that’s it. What we see is that we had that spike, but it is now levelling out that is slightly beyond what we were expecting. It doesn’t look like it’s going to weaken, and what’s more impressive is that this was achieved before we have even opened our flagship store. We do have high hopes for Tesla in the UAE as well as the GCC,” Bardenfleth-Hansen said.

The lasting buzz stems from a visit by Musk, the South African billionaire and co-founder and CEO of Tesla, who captured Dubai and the UAE’s imagination in a conversation with delegates attending the World Government Summit in February.

Musk confidently predicted that Dubai could be among the first cities of the future to become driverless as automated cars become the norm within the next 20 years.

The “next thing is autonomous cars”, Musk said at the time. “It’s going to happen much faster than people realise.”

By Derek Baldwin

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