Dubai, UAE: The UAE is taking a lead role in a new ‘electric vehicle era’ in the GCC, as the region’s first conference and exhibition dedicated to the latest developments in electric and hybrid vehicle technology got underway in Dubai today (8 November).
The International Conference on Future Mobility, taking place until 9 November at the Meydan Hotel, features more than 200 delegates, including government authorities, regulators, and international thought leaders, while a showcase of eco-friendly vehicles are on display from major manufacturers such as Toyota, Lexus, Renault, General Motors and Porsche.
The two-day summit is organised by Messe Frankfurt Middle East and hosted by the Emirates Authority for Standardization and Metrology (ESMA), and is expected to lay the foundations for the future of gulf-region wide eco-friendly transport.
The tremendous interest in the sustainable automotive technology was underlined by the large turnout from regional authorities, including representatives from the UAE Ministries of Environment and Water, Energy, and Economy; Dubai RTA; DEWA; the Federal Transport Authority; and the GCC Standardization Authority.
H.E Abdulla Al Maeeni, Director General of ESMA, delivered the inaugural keynote address: “ESMA has identified the growing need for electric and hybrid vehicles in the UAE as we move ahead toward a smart, integrated, and connected country.”
“Through encouraging the usage of eco-friendly vehicles, we are supporting the Dubai Smart City Initiative launched by H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, as well as the goals of the UAE Vision 2021.”
Ahmed Pauwels, CEO of Messe Frankfurt Middle East, added: “The International Conference on Future Mobility marks the beginning of the electric vehicle era in the UAE and the wider GCC, and comes at a pivotal time for both the regional and global automotive industry.”
“We have a unique opportunity here to promote the wide-scale usage of electric and hybrid vehicles, but at the same time, the right regulatory framework, potential consumer incentives, and necessary infrastructure need to be applied. Global best-practice in these key areas, along with new innovations and technologies are some of the many hot topics over the next two days.”
The International Conference on Future Mobility features 20 high profile international and regional speakers, including Len Hunt President of Al-Futtaim Automotive Group, who gave an overview of world-wide usage of Toyota and Lexus hybrid vehicles.
Hunt said the two brands’ hybrid vehicle sales have surpassed eight million, resulting in approximately 58 million fewer tons of CO2 emissions than would have been emitted by gasoline-powered vehicles of similar size and driving performance.
“Toyota estimates that its hybrid vehicles have saved approximately 22 million kiloliters of petrol, enough to fill 8,800 Olympic swimming pools, compared to the amount used by gasoline-powered vehicles of similar sizes,” said Hunt, who added that hybrid cars could provide the next step towards a greener society in the UAE.
“It’s very important to make this small but important distinction between hybrid and electric vehicles. Hybrid cars are equipped with a petrol engine and battery powered electric motor, which charges using the kinetic energy from the braking mechanism.
“With hybrid there isn’t actually a need for any additional infrastructure such as charging stations, which makes it a quickly implementable solution that requires zero investment, beside the cost of purchasing the cars.”
Hunt said that Al-Futtaim Motors, one of the Al-Futtaim Automotive Group companies and exclusive distributor of Toyota and Lexus vehicles in the UAE, has been working closely with the government and several taxi operators across the UAE to adopt new fleets of hybrid vehicles.
“At the moment, there are hundreds of Toyota Camry Hybrid vehicles on UAE roads, giving passengers a comfortable, quiet and energy efficient transport experience,” Hunt added.
“Furthermore, we recently invited key government officials to visit our Principals’ headquarters in Japan, to introduce to them the hybrid and fuel cell vehicle technology and share with them Toyota’s 2050 vision, which aims at phasing out all conventional gasoline cars by 2050, stressing only on hybrid and fuel cell vehicles. These visits helped us raise the understanding about these green technologies and how they could contribute towards achieving the UAE government vision.”
The International Conference on Future Mobility 2015 is held under the patronage of His Excellency Dr. Rashid Ahmed Bin-Fahad, UAE Minister of Environment and Water and Chairman of ESMA, and supported by the Automobile & Touring Club of the UAE (ATCUAE).
H.E. Mohammed Ben Sulayem, President of ATCUAE, a keynote speaker today, said: “The electric and hybrid car is a relatively new concept in the automotive industry in the Middle East. People here are not yet used to buying these kinds of cars yet. But the positive impact and environmental solutions offered by this concept make it imperative for all the concerned parties to work on setting an effective strategy that can contribute in spreading this concept in the near future.”
Other high-profile speakers at the International Conference on Future Mobility include Eng. Fahad Mohammed Saeed Hareb, Director of Air Quality at the UAE Ministry of Environment and Water; Francois Guichard, Economic Affairs Officer and Engineer, the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe; and Thierry Willemarck, President of the FIA Region 1, Belgium.
The various sessions featured a range of presentations and interactive forums on Public Policies, Strategies and Best Practices; Infrastructure, Distribution and Delivery of Electric Vehicles; Market, Business and User Behaviour; and Electric Vehicle Technology, Research and Development.