YallaMotor, an AMENA Trusted Partner as well as a key partner of Middle East EVRT, conducted an online survey to assess current awareness regarding Electric Vehicles (EVs) in the Middle East. The survey is aimed at shedding more light on the pain points facing potential buyers when purchasing an electric vehicle in our region.

AMENA Auto and YallaMotor contributed significantly towards making Middle EVRT a success by playing the role of media partners for this event. The road trip flagged off from WFES (World Future Energy Summit) in Abu Dhabi to attend eMobility Forum in Oman.

Global EVRT concluded the trip at the eMobility Forum Dubai, where AMENA Auto and YallaMotor shared some key insights into the Middle Eastern automotive market and its readiness to adopt electric cars.

Between 11th December 2018 and 9th January 2019, YallaMotor ran an online survey through its website. The survey posed key questions that help assess a lot of parameters regarding sales and popularity of electric cars in the Middle East.

GCC - How many drivers have ever driven an electric vehicle

Where do electric cars stand in the GCC?

Of the 3,081 responses received, a whopping 77 percent of the participants have never driven an electric vehicle before. 14 percent have driven a hybrid, while just nine percent have driven a pure EV. The factors steering purchase decisions in the Middle East for electric cars were segregated into pros and cons.

The survey shows that 51 percent of the people were impressed by the driving range of modern EVs. Another aspect playing in the electric cars’ favour was carbon emissions concern, which came in a close second on the ‘advantages’ leaderboard at 49 percent.  Being EVs, cars like the Chevrolet Bolt EV and Renault Zoe boast of zero carbon emissions.

On the other hand, people shying away from purchasing electric cars cited initial cost as well as long recharge times as the primary concerns. By far the most striking feature of the survey result was that close to 25 percent of the participants had no idea where the current crop of EVs stood at. This points to a clear lack of awareness among the general public when it comes to electric mobility.

GCC - Car buyers perceived advantages towards electric vehicles

What plays against EV adoption?

Wherever you are in the world, a car is not just an appliance. It is a sizable investment, which is why purchase decisions are also driven by factors such as return on investment. 37 percent of the demographic views an EV as a credible return on investment. However, a more prominent result of this key question was that 40 percent of the people were unsure of an electric car’s ROI proposition. In the UAE, the results are even better. 41 percent of the responses received considered EVs to perform well on the ROI front.

The biggest hurdle to widespread adoption of EV technology is the notoriously slow recharging times and range anxiety. YallaMotor has tabled a response breakdown regarding these two complaints as well. While 31 percent of the participants expected a driving range of more than 300km, 32 percent expected their EVs to be fully charged in an hour, an expectation that starkly contrasts today’s reality. That being said, 72 percent of respondents are willing to spend between one and four hours charging their EVs.

If we combine the survey findings from expected range and charging times, an acceptable metric for electric cars for potential buyers is between 300 to 500km of driving range, and a realistic charging period no more than four hours.

Car buyers perceived disadvantages towards electric vehicles

Will you buy an electric car?

Lastly, a critical question pops up: who is actually willing to buy an electric car? While an overwhelming 44 percent showed their willingness, 27 percent of the respondents were unsure whether or not to go for an EV. More interestingly, as many as 61 percent would opt for the EV as their primary vehicle. Although UAE ranks fourth in the number of people who have driven electric vehicles, it is the clear leader in EV adoption with 50 percent participants willing to purchase an electric car, followed by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia at 45 percent.

UAE scores the highest in this category due to the fast-expanding EV support infrastructure being set up countrywide. EV drivers in the UAE have access to several charging services, free designated parking spaces across cities, exemption from Salik tag fees, exemption from registration and renewal fees, and a special number plate sticker.

Additionally, only 26 percent of the respondents are willing to shell out extra cash for an EV comparable to a conventional car. 39 percent said they would pay the same, while 35 percent refused to pay more than a conventional car’s asking price. This is a rather important aspect of purchase that can make or break the future of EV adoption. The cheapest electric car on sale in the UAE is the Renault Zoe which retails for almost AED 136,000. At this price, people can buy premium conventional cars.

How to accelerate EV adoption?

One technique to promote the early adoption of electric cars is to promote them through test drives. Middle East EVRT is one such initiative on a large scale that removes the usual misconceptions associated with EVs.

As we have seen, the UAE ranks fourth in terms of people having driven EVs, yet leads the charge in willingness of purchase. Initiatives like eMobility Forums will also help to build more trust towards EVs, effectively making them mainstream products. Events like these, plus incentives from the public and private sector, coupled with continually improving infrastructure should result in more and more people seeing the benefit of owning and driving EVs instead of gasoline-guzzling conventional cars.

GCC - How likely are you to consider buying an Electric Vehicle in the next two years?

Electric vehicles currently sell as niche products due to their exorbitant pricing. With just four options to choose from in the Middle East, car buyers are under the impression that there aren’t enough offerings in the market to address their needs. Moreover, the general perception of EVs is that of expensive alternatives to conventional vehicles. Good news is that this perception is slowly but steadily shifting in favour of electric cars. And in the coming years, charging and packaging technology of EVs will be further enhanced, making these silent, clean cars the preferred choice of millions of people across the world.

Complete insights can be downloaded here.

Complete insights can be downloaded here