Electric vehicles: All you need to know

  • April 05 2022
  • Business Insights

Climate change debates, global warming and alarming pollution levels have prompted people, governments, and corporates globally to look for greener alternatives. Electric vehicles are being looked at as an important invention to enable a more environmentally conscious lifestyle. 
In this section, we answer queries for those thinking about transitioning to electric vehicles for personal use or business.

  1.  What are electric vehicles?

Electric vehicles or EVs run completely or partially on electricity as opposed to Internal Combustion Engines (ICE) conventional vehicles run on.
A lithium-ion battery is the most widely used battery for EVs. These batteries can be charged at charging points in your home or shared at public charging stations. Electric vehicles have low emission because they do not need to burn fuel to run. They are easy to maintain and help combat pollution and global warming.

  1.  What are the different types of EVs?

EVs could be:

  • Battery Electric Vehicles: BEVs run entirely on batteries powered by electricity and are zero-emission. These batteries are capable of fast-charging, and since these vehicles do not have petrol, diesel, or gas tanks few parts need maintenance.
  • Plug-in Hybrid or Hybrid Electric Vehicles: PHEVs or HEVs do not rely only on a battery. They have petrol or diesel fuel tanks you can switch to when you travel long distances. The advantage of these vehicles is you do not have to go looking for charging points on the road because you have fuel as back-up.
    For all practical purposes, PHEVs or HEVs are like ICE vehicles in terms of the maintenance, emission levels and expenditure on petrol.
  • Fuel Cell EVs: Viewed as the future of transport, Fuel Cell EVs or FCEVs run on hydrogen, which passes through a fuel cell and charges the battery that powers the vehicle. These vehicles are quick to refuel with one full tank of hydrogen lasting you up to 300 miles.

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  1.  How do EVs work?

To understand how an EV works, think of a battery-operated toy car – it works as long as the battery has charge. The battery needs to be plugged into electric vehicle supply equipment or EVSE, which simply is a charger, which charges it. Once fully charged, this battery powers the vehicle’s electric motor, which runs the car. The technology in EVs, therefore, converts electricity into mechanical energy by creating a magnetic field.
At the end of a day’s commute, you can plug the charger to the EVSE you may have installed at home or on your company premises and leave the car to charge overnight. 
Alternatively, you can leave your car at a public charging station close to your place of work and leave the battery to charge while you finish work. 

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  1.  What is the range you can expect from an EV?

The range of an EV means the distance it can cover after being charged once. Much like your cell phones – some can go for up to eight hours on a single charge, some can run for 12, depending on how many apps you have open at once or how much you use your phone. With EVs, the range depends on the terrain and the number of internal features you use while you drive, among other things.
The range EVs offer varies from manufacturer to manufacturer. The Tesla Model S can give you range of up to 400km while a Mazda MX 30 can go up to 170km on a single charge.

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  1.  What are the advantages of EVs?

Electric vehicles come with several advantages:

  1. They are low maintenance with fewer spare parts than ICE vehicles, so you save on maintenance costs overall.
  2. They are zero or low-emission vehicles. They don’t pollute as much as conventional cars, so they are a greener alternative.
  3.  They eliminate or greatly reduce your dependence on expensive fossil fuels like petrol, saving you heartburn each time oil prices go up.
  4. Governments across the world are offering incentives to those who use EVs. Certain countries offer subsidies or cash-back on EV purchases; let you charge your vehicle for free at public charging stations; and even enjoy free parking. 
  5. They are easy to recharge. Just plug-in at home or at a public charging station.
  6. EVs have regenerative braking. This means every time you apply the brakes, the energy generated is used to recharge the vehicle’s batteries. 
  7. They look good and are fun to drive with their unmatched acceleration capabilities. They are also less noisy.

Learn more about the benefits of EVs:

  1. What is the size of the EV market today?

Consulting and audit major, Deloitte, forecasts that the global EV market will exhibit a compound annual growth rate of 29% over the next 10 years. From 2.5 million in 2020, total EV sales are expected to touch 11.2 million in 2025 and 31.1 million by 2030.
Let’s look at some numbers that are likely to define the EV industry over the next two decades:
Deloitte predicts by 2030, BEVs are likely to account for 81% (25.3 million) of all new EVs sold. 

  • According to Deloitte insights, China will hold 49% of the global EV market by 2030, Europe will have 27%, and the United States will hold 14%.
  • Germany and China have budgeted billions of dollars for the development of charging infrastructure as part of their post-pandemic economic recovery plan.
  • A study on the UAE Electric Vehicle Market for the period between 2019 and 2025 projects that the EV market in Dubai will grow at a CAGR of 32.1% during this time frame. 
  • Bloomberg NEF’s Economic Transition Scenario (ETS) expects global sales of zero-emission cars to rise from 4% of the market in 2020 to 70% by 2040, assuming no additional initiatives from the government, and that of buses to rise to 83% by 2040. 
  • The ETS predicts zero-emission light commercial vehicles will grow to 60% of their market over the same period, and medium and heavy commercial vehicles to over 30%.
  • According to Bloomberg NEF’s Electric Vehicle Outlook (EVO) for 2021, buses and two and three-wheelers offer the biggest opportunity for electrification in emerging economies.
  • By 2040, globally, we will need at least 309 million chargers across all locations, with 270 million home chargers, 24 million public chargers and 4 million bus and truck chargers. According to the EVO 2021, these would require over USD 589 billion of cumulative investment in the next two decades. 

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  1. How are governments around the world pushing for EVs and why?

As global warming and climate change become our reality, countries are looking for greener alternatives. A significant manner to reduce carbon footprint is to switch to environmentally friendly means of transport, both private and public. More electric buses, cars and two-wheelers on the road means lesser fuel dependence, lower emissions, and cleaner environment.  
According to EV Lab, the UAE’s first electric vehicle platform, EVs can save an average of 20% of CO2 for every kilometer driven in comparison to their gasoline counterparts, and up to 100% if the electric grid is operated solely on renewable energy.
With CO2 emission and fuel economy norms tightening, governments are seeing EVs as the future. More companies are manufacturing safer and cheaper EVs, and governments boosting infrastructure and offering subsidies to encourage the transition. 
By 2030, in the NetZero scenario, the sale of electric cars, for instance, is ideally at 60% globally. According to the International Energy Agency report, NetZero 2050: A Roadmap for the Global Energy Sector, to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050, countries across the world will need more ambitious measures to push for the adoption of EVs, especially heavy-duty vehicles, and reduction of carbon-intensive electricity generation. 
According to the IEA, some governments introduced regulations with additional incentives to ensure EV sales were not hit badly during the Covid 19 pandemic. By the end of 2020 more than 20 economies had announced their targets to phase out ICE vehicles in the coming decades.
Learn more about the global commitment towards electrification of transport: 

  1.    What is the scope for commercial and fleet EVs?

A study by fleet telematics and data analytics experts, Geotab, on fleet vehicles in Seattle revealed that upon replacing their existing fleet vehicles with EVs, the city saved $2 million in fuel and spent only $100,000 on electricity.
According to Eric Mallia, vice president of sustainability solutions at Geotab, there is tremendous scope for electrification of fleets because they have a lower total cost of ownership than gas or diesel vehicles. A case study Geotab undertook with Enterprise Fleet Management showed if they replace 13% of their fleet with EVs, they can save up to $33million in the immediate future.
With governments tightening emission norms, electrification of fleet and commercial vehicles will gain pace in the coming decades. Companies wanting to jump on the e-mobility bandwagon with their fleets should consider the following:

  • The possibilities for installing or upgrading charging infrastructure
  • The charging schedule, especially in case of public transport EVs
  • The cost of replacing batteries
  • The extent of dependence on the electric grid system and the ability to generate electricity through, say, solar panels to power their fleet
  • Training drivers and employees to adapt to the modern technology
  •  Systems for tracking power usage

Learn more more about electrifying fleets:

  1.    How do you maintain and service EVs?

Maintaining your EV can be cheaper than maintaining a petrol or diesel vehicle.
Hybrid and plug-in hybrid EVs have maintenance requirements similar to conventional vehicles because they have fuel tanks and combustion engines.
Battery EVs have fewer moving spare parts and the battery, motor or other electronic parts do not require intensive or frequent servicing. 

Batteries used in EVs are designed to last the lifetime of the vehicle. Manufacturers generally offer an eight-year or 100,000-mile warranty on them. However, if do you have to replace the battery, it can be a substantial expense. 

The brakes of EVs last longer due to regenerative braking, which taps into energy generated when brakes are applied and uses it to recharge the vehicle’s battery.
Other than this, you need to conduct regular checks on the power steering, chassis, tires, brake fluid and windshield washer fluid and cooling fluid if your EV battery uses one.     

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Lease or buy an EV – which is the better option?
EVs are constantly upgrading with new technology being invented at a fast pace. Considering factors such as the cost of an EV and depreciation, leasing or renting an EV makes for a sound financial decision.

The advantages of leasing an EV are:

  • You pay fixed rent every month and when the contract ends you have the option of switching to a new model
  • You do not have to account for depreciation. That is the leasing company’s lookout
  • You can explore newer models and brands of EVs frequently. If you buy an EV, you cannot change it for a new model that easily because it is expensive to do so

Disadvantages of leasing:

  • You may not own the car, but you still have to maintain it else you will have to pay for damages at the end of the contract
  • You cannot recover the money you spend in terms of insurance or other fees. Like when you rent a house, the money you spend on rent or minor repairs is not going into creating an asset
  • Some leasing companies set a mileage limit. You may have to pay for exceeding that limit

If available in your region, you can even consider a PCP or a personal contract purchase. Under this method of financing, the financing company calculates the expected depreciation on the EV as the difference between its sale price and its value after a certain number of years. You pay this difference in monthly installments over a fixed tenure. At the end of the tenure, you can pay the depreciated price of the vehicle and retain it or return it. 

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  1.     What are the challenges in the transition to EVs?

The challenges in transitioning to EVs are multifold. 
Concerns of an end-user: A report by the Harris polling firm in 2018 found 58% of respondents named “running out of power” as their top reason for not buying an EV, and 49% named “low availability of charging stations”. 

  • Not enough charging infrastructure or clarity on pricing system for charging
  • Safety of lithium-ion batteries 
  • Driving range and battery-charging time 
  • High price tags of EVs
  • Not enough choices to fit varied budgets and needs
  • Reluctance to make the switch

Market challenges:

  • Production and charging infrastructure updates are not keeping up with zero-emission targets
  • Rising raw material costs will increase production costs. In 2021, the price of steel rose by as much as 100% and aluminum around 70%. 
  • Government subsidies will decline once EVs reach price parity with ICE vehicles. That could pose challenges for manufacturers and buyers 
  • Need for safer and cheaper alternatives to lithium, cobalt and nickel used in batteries
  • High customer interest doesn’t convert into sales

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  1.   What are the business opportunities linked to the electrification of transport?
  • Charging stations: As more EVs hit the roads, the demand for charging stations and equipment in office complexes, homes, and townships will rise. Charging stations can be set up as private-public endeavors.  

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Battery technology: The industry is looking for alternatives to lithium and other rare metals like cobalt and nickel. Sustainable, heat-resistant options can make EVs safer and more affordable. Futher, start-ups and technology companies are competing to develop alternative battery technology. 

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Renewable sources of energy: The demand for EVs will lead to an increase in the demand for electricity. Alternative power sources will be in great demand. Utilities and third-party entities can offer services to enable customers to opt for renewable sources of energy.  

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 Battery recycling: There will be a need for systems to recycle EV batteries to minimize their impact on the environment. Battery recycling processes will receive a push when more EVs are sold.  

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  1.  What is the UAE doing to encourage the transition to EVs?

The UAE, especially Dubai, has made considerable progress in e-mobility in the region. Since the first Tesla showroom opened in Dubai in 2017, the government has been offering incentives to promote EVs, including free parking slots and Salik tags from the Road Transport Authority (RTA). 

Apart from car rental companies in the UAE offering electrical cars with free charging, the government launched the UberOne service, which gives Uber customers a chance to ride a Tesla Model1X EV.

Other EV car makers such as Renault, Mitsubishi and Toyota have set up shop in the UAE. The Emirates of Dubai aims to have 40,000 EVs registered by 2030. 
Dubai has also laid out the Dubai Clean Energy Strategy 2050 to ensure the emirate has the lowest carbon footprint in the world. The federal government aims to convert 20% of public sector car fleets to EVs in the next decade. 

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  1.  What is the charging infrastructure like in the UAE? 

According to a news report dated August 21, 2021, in the Khaleej Times, the UAE has set up more than 750 charging stations, “the second-most number of chargers per EV on the road after Amsterdam” (click here to read the report).

In March 2017, the Supreme Council of Energy issued the Dubai Administrative Decision No.1 of 2017 regarding the installation of charging stations for EVs in Dubai. The decision makes it mandatory for all private and public organizations, and developers in Dubai to get approval from the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) before they install, operate or maintain a charging station. 
Private owners of EV charging stations in Abu Dhabi need the Abu Dhabi Distribution Company to inspect and approve their facilities before they are open to EV users.

DEWA offers free charging for non-commercial EV customers registered in the EV Green Charger Initiative until December 31, 2021. This incentive is available only at public charging stations. Commercial customers pay 29 fils for every kilowatt-hour. 

According to, there are 623 connectors in 273 locations across the UAE. 

Learn more:

Click here to view a list of charging stations across the UAE. If you are in Dubai, you can locate the charging station closest by clicking on this link to the DEWA website.

  1.  Where can you charge your EV battery?

You can charge your EV at home. Most EVs come with a basic charging system. You can plug an EV into a standard 120V charging point but charging this way could take long. You can install a higher-voltage charging point in your garage or parking lot if you have the space. This Level 2 charging will power your batteries faster.
If you live in an apartment complex you could use shared charging in the apartment block or at public charging stations. If you manage a fleet of commercial vehicles, you will have to install charging points on your company premises and maintain a charging schedule.

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  1.   What are the concerns regarding battery safety in EVs, and how are companies addressing them?

Reports of fires in EVs using lithium-ion batteries has caused concerts around the safety of EVs among potential buyers. 
Lithium–ion batteries are sensitive to heat and flammable if they get over-heated, are over-charged or have a manufacturing defect.
Companies are developing technology to use more heat-resistant batteries, employing alternative materials like graphene in battery parts, and looking at in-built cooling systems. 

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  1.  How do EVs influence the global sustainability agenda?

EVs are now top-of-mind for governments across the world primarily because of climate change concerns. EVs have a low carbon footprint and fit right into the world’s Net Zero agenda.

The United Kingdom plans to ban the sale of all polluting vehicles by 2035. According to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the share of the transport sector in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions is expected to exceed more than 30% of total GHG emissions in the future. Under its Global Electric Mobility Programme, the UNEP recommends EVs should be introduced in fleets, mainly in public transport and shared mobility services, to make the transition from conventional vehicles easier.

However, the pace of adoption of EVs in developing countries is slower than desirable because of the lack of strong charging infrastructure. Developing countries are already struggling with severe pressure on electric grids due to high demand for electricity for industry and household use. Adding EVs to the mix will strain the electric grids. The heavy dependence on fossil fuels to generate electricity to power EVs will mean more emissions.

In this scenario, governments of developing countries will need to actively push for alternative sources to generate power, for example solar panels, which can in turn power EVs.

The UNEP’s Electric Mobility Programme has brought private entities and academia together to support the electrification of transport in developing countries through tech support, funding and pilot projects.

Unless majority of people switch to electric transport, nobody can fully reap the benefits.

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  1.   How does the conscious consumer perceive EVs?

A study conducted in 2021 among Chinese consumers concluded that materialism can come in the way of the adoption of EVs, while ecological consciousness can support it. Consumers who want to contribute towards the reduction of CO2 emissions and the global goal of a cleaner environment, are more likely to buy EVs, irrespective of the perceived costs.
Materialistic consumers, on the other hand, are more likely to focus on the perceived costs rather than the benefits. 

EVs reduce dependence on polluting fossil fuels like petrol and diesel and have the potential to bring about energy-independence among users. When an ethical consumer opts for an EV, they know they are contributing towards a global zero-emissions goal. EVs bring about a sharing of resources such as public charging points and reduce wastage through recycling of batteries.
EV makers can attract ethical consumers in different ways:
Targeting new groups: EVs are aspirational, especially for the conscious consumer. Car makers are recognizing this fact and targeting groups that can influence peers. The Opel Rocks-e, for instance, is appealing to teenagers and is being pitched in Europe as the perfect Sustainable Urban Mobility solution. It is a moped masquerading as a car. You don’t need a car license to drive it, only a two-wheeler license. But it looks and functions like a car.
Promoting the concept more than the product: EV makers are also extending the concept of sustainable mobility to areas other than transport, like art, music, and fashion, to generate interest. Women are being looked at as driving forces when it comes to appreciating and propagating the merits of EVs.
Showing their green hearts: Volvo advocates the circular economy – using recycled material in their vehicles for accessories such as foot mats and seats. The company plans to be climate-neutral by 2040, and with that aim they want to ensure by 2025 at least 25% of the plastics used in newly launched models will be made from recycled material.

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  1.  What technological advancements can we expect from EVs in the coming years?

EVs are evolving continuously to make them more viable and sustainable. Development of EV technology will focus on key areas:


The search is on for greener and safer alternatives to lithium-ion batteries to reduce the need for rare metals like cobalt. Researchers are exploring the use of graphite and materials extracted from sea water to make batteries perform better, are cheaper and last longer.

Industry experts are betting on solid-state batteries as the next big thing.
Solid state batteries have no fluid or moving parts. They charge faster, can store energy for longer and are safer. This increases the EV’s range – it can go longer distances in one charge.

Learn more about emerging battery technology:

Charging speed and infrastructure: Countries will have to improve their public charging infrastructure by employing fast and ultra-fast chargers, making payment systems uniform and uncomplicated and increasing the number of charging stations. Experts say data science and analytics will be widely used to make smooth charging schedules for fleet operators. Renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind energy, may be used power charging stations at public facilities and homes.

The most exciting development, according to industry-watchers is bi-directional charging, which creates a symbiotic relationship between EVs and electric grid systems. Bi-directional charging allows cars to inject extra energy generated during use, back into the grid. In other words, your EV can actually become an alternative energy source. 

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Advanced communication systems: Communication systems of the future will use artificial intelligence to enable EVs to communicate with other devices (vehicle-to-everything), other vehicles (vehicle-to-vehicle) and local infrastructure (vehicle-to-infrastructure), making driving easier and roads safer. EVs can use these communication systems to know how far a traffic light is, for instance, thus reducing starting and stopping frequency and saving energy.

For more on this, go to, An Overview of Vehicular Communication9 (Fabio Arena and Giovanni Pau)