Dubai has ambitious goals for electric cars, and the infrastructure to back them. Early adopters of EVs get a number of benefits from the government like no tolls, discounts on registration, and free parking. Despite the benefits, the public seems to be doing fine without electric vehicles.

The biggest customer of electric vehicles is the government itself, according to dealers. Hundreds of EVs have been sold in bulk to local authorities over the past few years. The Roads and Transport Authority of Dubai will be buying 200 Tesla cars to integrate into its fleet of 5,000 vehicles. The few others spotted on the roads are majorly Tesla cars.

Tesla Model X Dubai UAE

A majority of the electric cars plying the roads of Dubai today are Teslas.

The economic benefits of ownership of EVs aren’t strong in the UAE due to affordable pricing of fossil fuels and high ambient temperatures for most of the year. “Unless you get someone who’s really into looking after the environment, to get the consumers into those vehicles, there’s not a lot of incentive,” said Bill Carter of Autodata Middle East. The firm provides data and valuation in the local industry.

The other reason for people not going for electric cars are their small dimensions. “The highways in Dubai and the U.A.E. can be a little bit intimidating, so people here opt for bigger cars,” said Karim El-Jisr, executive director of the Dubai-based SEE Nexus Institute. “If we want to accelerate the uptake, we need a wider range of electric vehicles to satisfy tastes and wallets,” he continued.

The government is the largest customer of electric cars in the Emirate.

The government still estimates that it could accommodate 32,000 electric vehicles on the road by 2020 if car manufacturers were to offer suitable models for sale in Dubai. Faisal Rashid, director at the Dubai Supreme Council of Energy, said: “Even today, if we give every incentive you can think of, there aren’t cars available.”

Currently, about 4,000 hybrid and electric vehicle ply the roads of Dubai, of which no fewer than 1,000 are purely electric. There’s a “soft” target of ten percent of all vehicles in Dubai to be electric by 2030, said Rashid.