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Electric car vision: Prepare early for big changes

Adel Murad
Some of the steps developed in some Western countries toward electrification of the motor car can be followed in the GCC region. These include building the needed infrastructure, taxation on the most polluting vehicles, incentives for zero-emission electric cars and legislation support for the necessary change.
Britain and France have put a deadline of 2040 for ending production and sale of new internal combustion engines. Only electric and hybrid vehicles will be sold new from that date. Shell has already launched fast-charging points for electric cars at three service stations in London. They charge most electric cars to 80 percent in half an hour.
The British government has introduced a bill to make electric vehicles charging points mandatory at all large petrol stations and motorway services. The Electric Vehicles Bill will lead to charging points being installed in about 8,500 filling stations, which would almost double the number of charging stations now in use.
The bill also deals with the issue of autonomous driving, stating that the insurer is liable for any damage caused if the car is insured and driving itself.
If not insured, and the accident is caused by the car when driving itself, the owner is liable for the damage. Owners will also be liable for accidents if they have modified the software of their car or failed to install important updates.
The bill outlines a huge investment in electrification and autonomous driving amounting to £1.2 billion ($1.56 billion). It includes ideas for street charging points linked to street lamps.
For a move toward alternative energy and autonomous driving, GCC countries need to have a vision of the timescale to apply new technologies, issue legislations that allow for their use and invest in the infrastructure needed for electric cars. Car companies have expressed an interest in assisting in all aspects of that change.
The changes to the motor industry in the next decade will be deeper and more disruptive than in the past half-century. The best way to deal with the coming upheaval is to prepare for it early.
•Adel Murad is a senior motoring and business journalist, based in London.

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