Electric cars: Give consumers a choice
The absence of electric cars in the GCC region is notable and most obvious in the case of BMW i3.
The small electric vehicle is distributed in most parts of the world except for the Gulf region.
The i3 is so successful there is a long waiting list of customers in most markets.
There are reasons, cited by car companies, for not exporting electric cars to the region including cheap fossil fuel and lack of tangible demand from consumers.
These reasons are not convincing.
I know of no surveys that prove consumers in the GCC are less keen to use electric cars than in other cities of the world.
Fuel may be cheap in the short run, but there is also the environment issue which is totally ignored. GCC cities are reaching the limits of air pollution levels, especially in summer; they can certainly do with the respite offered by electric cars.
There are three parties that can contribute to changing the status quo: consumers, car companies and governments.
Consumers have no choice at the moment but to buy what car companies are offering them.
Companies, for reasons yet to be proven, do not offer consumers in the region the choice of electric vehicle.
Governments, meanwhile, are not taking an active role in changing the market fundamentals.
While consumers cannot initiate change — as they do not know what they are missing, it is down to companies to offer them the choice and help in building the needed infrastructure as they do in many other parts of the world.
Governments need to offer consumers incentives to switch.
As there is no direct taxation on owning cars, such as a road tax system, how about diverting some of the fuel subsidies from petrol to use of electric vehicles?
Most GCC governments recognize the increasing air pollution issue and would need to tackle it sooner or later.
Electric cars are part of the solution and legislation may be needed to encourage their use.
Governments can also offer to help companies build the necessary infrastructure.
Electric cars have come a long way to overcome their shortcomings.
Range anxiety is no longer an issue.
These vehicles should be made available to consumers in the GCC who deserve to have that choice.
* Adel Murad is a senior motoring and business journalist, based in London.
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