“Hybrid cars still can’t cut it in United Arab Emirates,” is the sub-heading sum-up of an article in this week’s Gulf News covering the Dubai Motor Show. The business editor Orlando Crowcroft goes on to brag how few people can sit through Al Gore‘s eco-educational film: “After all, I’d rather feel like a racing driver than an ex-presidential candidate who, if we’re honest, few of us really listen to and — if we’re even more honest — fewer still have sat all the way through An Inconvenient Truth.”
It’s worth noting that need for speed in the United Arab Emirates is satisfied by cars that can go over 400 km/h – that the SSC Tuatara promises – and with a sense of entitlement in the air buyers would much rather be seen in a volcano-orange McLaren than “a weird-looking electric car endorsed by Al Gore,” Crowcroft writes.
Other practical reasons why hybrids don’t take center stage in Gulf region car shows are the long commute between Dubai and Abu Dhabi, which take up about three hours every day – too much to hold a charge.
When Green Prophet’s Tafline was in Abu Dhabi earlier this year she was flummoxed by the lack of pubic transportation in the region. (Read how cyclists are basically riding targets). And given the rate of accidents over there and in the Middle East at large you’d too probably want to be in an SUV too.
The few companies that did buck the trend the Dubai Motor Show was a Chinese hybrid company Lifan, and a car rental firm which rents out hybrids and all electric cars.
“Where petrol is cheap and the infrastructure is geared towards oil cars need to be fast and hard-wearing, it will be a long time before we see a proliferation of green cars,” the business editor concludes.
I disagree, if hybrids can be made with a sexy “wow” factor, enhanced by advertising and marketing campaigns, the losers in the Gulf region will be driving the Hummers, and the winners will be plugging in their electric cars every night.