Hybrid cars have had a slow start in the Middle East in comparison to other markets. One factor influencing sales is the fact that fuel costs tend to be lower than in other parts of the world, creating less demand for electric vehicles. However, a new crop of sport and luxury models could help change that.
The Hyundai Motor Company has just launched their first hybrid car in the region, with the new Sonata hybrid. Is the Middle East ready for a new rash of hybrids and electric vehicles? Hyundai’s Vice President Tom Lee believes so, stating that increasing awareness in the region of environmental issues makes it a good time to meet the new demand for green cars. It’s worth taking a closer look at the new Sonata and some other upcoming luxury hybrids which are due to hit motoring car news sites in the next year or two.
At the moment, the Sonata will only be available in Jordan, due to rising demand for green cars in the country. The Jordanian government is offering tax breaks for driving efficient vehicles, which has led to 100 Sonata hybrids already being sold per month in this market. The new model comes equipped with a hybrid drive system including a 2.4 litre gasoline engine which provides 199 hp. This is combined with an electric motor and lithium polymer battery, for a total output of 200 hp. With its electric motor alone, the car can reach speeds of 120 km/h and travel 16.1 km per litre of fuel. Further features to entice consumers include Bluetooth, cruise control, an LCD computer display and a 7-year warranty.
BMW’s new i8 plug-in hybrid is due to be unveiled at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September, and will then be commercially available first in the United Arab Emirates and other countries in mid-2014. The new model is anticipated to combine the sporty handling and ability of a performance car with the efficiency of a smaller vehicle. To help push sales in this niche market, BMW has already planned extensive training for sales and marketing representatives in the region. With low emissions and styling that makes a statement, BMW hopes to showcase the i8′s individuality to boost sales.
Porsche already offers a hybrid version of its Cayenne sports car in the Middle East. However, this luxury automaker is ready to expand their offerings in the region with the new Panamera S E-Hybrid, which will be available at the end of this year. Due to Porsche’s impeccable reputation, this new model is expected to do well with local buyers who want to drive a car that stands out from conventional models. It could also be a hit with those who peruse green car reviews with Motoring in the interest of choosing something more environmentally conscious.
These are a few of the most promising hybrids due to hit the Middle East in the next year or so.
A luxury green Bentley SUV also looms on the horizon; and Dubai’s taxi fleet is already partially comprised of Toyota Camry hybrids. Yet it may take some time for green cars to go more mainstream in this unique market. With a consistent uptick in volumes, automakers are watching hybrid sales carefully to meet a slowly but surely increasing demand.