Adel MuradWhile consumers in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) region wonder if major manufacturers will introduce their latest electric models to the region in the next few years, Tesla is already in the market and first deliveries of its S and X models are due to UAE customers next month.
Elon Musk, Tesla chief, visited Dubai and promised an expansion of dealerships in Abu Dhabi next year, and later to Saudi Arabia, Oman and Bahrain.
These cars can also be recharged at home, and there are 28 locations across the UAE for recharging Tesla batteries, which the company hopes to increase to 50 by the end of this year. Tesla is focusing on the Gulf region as a potential hub for growth and intends to launch its regional office in Dubai.
Tesla now has the first-mover advantage. Over the past few years, major companies dragged their feet in pushing new technologies in the region. They cited cheap fuel, lack of infrastructure, reluctant distributors and consumer apathy for continuing with the old pattern of selling combustion engines in larger numbers.
The shock finally came from China, which stipulated that carmakers must sell 8 percent of their exports as clean-energy vehicles as of next year, rising to 12 percent in 2020. Furthermore, they must source their batteries locally in China. Now the scramble is on to meet this quota, which, sooner or later, will spread to other markets.
One can conclude that the Chinese initiative came as a blessing for other regions in the world, which did not have to offer incentives, impose restrictions or put pressure on car companies. China did the hard work and car companies now have to comply and clean up their act.
** Adel Murad is a senior motoring and business journalist based in London.
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