DUBAI // Owners of electric vehicles are having a hard time finding a place to charge their vehicles’ fuel cells despite the UAE’s growing network of charging stations.
With a big push towards green initiatives, some drivers who adopt new technology feel they are getting a raw deal from motorists in conventional vehicles.
“I bought a Tesla because it’s good for the environment,” said Mohammed Al Huraimel, 38, an Emirati investor in Abu Dhabi.
“But there should be some consideration for owners of electric cars. Malls should take action against those who park in spots reserved for electric-powered vehicles.”
Mr Al Huraimel was frustrated in his recent visit to the Dubai Mall because a Ford Mustang was parked in a space for electric vehicles.
He faced another obstacle when he drove to the car park in the Mall of the Emirates. Security guards directed him to a parking zone, but a Range Rover had occupied a place meant for an electric car.
Fortunately for Mr Al Huraimel, he managed to charge his car at the valet parking area and paid Dh50.
Emaar Malls said it was working to ensure that parking spaces with electric chargers are better signposted. “We are going through a process of educating and strengthening awareness among our visitors. The Dubai Mall has three electric car charging stations,” it said.
Mall of the Emirates said it had installed nine “Tesla destination charging” stations at the Fashion Dome valet parking, and on the first and second floors.
Emaar Malls said: “As demand for these chargers increases, we are adding more signage to ensure awareness that the spaces are intended for electric vehicles, as well as printed reminder cards to leave these spaces free for charging.”
Mohammed Al Jallaf, 51, an Emirati businessman who owns a Tesla, said there was a lack of public awareness about parking spaces for electric cars.
“It’s all about education. They should be aware that they’re not supposed to park on the spot reserved for electric car owners,” he said.
“It’s like when somebody occupies a handicapped parking spot. Mall security can also politely ask them to move out.”
Mr Al Jallaf, whose Tesla was imported from Switzerland last year, raved about his car.
“I simply love its reliability, stability and manoeuvrability,” he said.
Government subsidies and incentives would encourage motorists to use electric cars, said Mr Al Jallaf.
“It’s becoming clear that electric cars are the future. Governments in Europe and in the US offer financial incentives and tax credits,” he said.
“In the UAE, there should be some cash incentives of some sort, maybe in the form of discounts, to encourage people to switch to electric cars.”
The businessman said he made sure that he fully charged his Tesla before driving it from home.
Glenn Havinoviski, a transport expert in the US, said developing a charging network would be a priority in the coming years.
“Dubai and Abu Dhabi are far from that, I am sure, as are most places. Having 10 charger spaces in a mall car park is a start but you will need more,” he said.
Dynamic road-charging grids, where a car is charged as it drives down a reserved lane, may also be installed on roads in the future.
“This will greatly support the mass adoption of electric vehicles,” said Mr Havinoviski. “But it will require a major effort, which involves both the government and private sector.”