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Thursday, July 29, 2021

Why electric cars may not have a future in Qatar

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Renault Twizy at 2014 Motor Show in Qatar.
Renault Twizy at 2014 Motor Show in Qatar.

It’s been more than a year and two Qatar Motor shows since the Renault Twizy – a fully electric car – made its dramatic debut in Doha. But despite its warm reception, the vehicle’s future in Qatar and across the Gulf remains uncertain.

The two-door Twizy, which costs QR77,900, is an ultra-compact vehicle with two passenger seats, one behind the other, and a battery life of some 85 to 100km.

Renault Twizy at 2015 Motor Show in Qatar.
Renault Twizy at 2015 Motor Show in Qatar.

Renault’s first electric offering, it was named the top-selling plug-in vehicle in Europe when it launched in 2012. It is the first electric car to come to Qatar.

However, despite its success in France and neighboring countries, where the car is used as a safer option to motorbikes for teenagers who have just earned their driving permits, the Twizy – like any battery-powered automobile – has yet to be sold locally.

Speaking to Doha News at this year’s motor show, Declan McCluskey, general manager at Saleh Al Hamad Al Mana Co., said part of the problem was confusion about how to classify the car.

“The car has not been approved by the government yet. The GSO standards, which are common over the Middle East, have very defined categories. They can’t decide whether to classify the car as a motorbike – in which case drivers would be required to wear a helmet – or a car, which it’s too lightweight and small to classify as,” he said.

Elsewhere in the world

Elsewhere in the world, where the car is a more common sight on the roads, standardization bodies like the CEN-CENELEC and ETSI in Europe and the NHTSA in the United States have created workarounds to bring electric vehicles to the road.

In the US, battery-operated electric vehicles are classified as neighborhood electric vehicles, and are only allowed to be driven on roads with a maximum speed limit of 72 km/hr.

Electric cars in the UK
Electric cars in the UK

In Europe, they are classified as motorized quadricycles, and follow similar regulations on speed limits and roads.

The regulations, which came into practice some four to five years ago, were spurred in large part by rising fuel costs, and a growing conscientiousness about reducing pollution.

In fact, US and EU governments have even instituted subsidies and economic incentives in the form of tax credits, grants and bonus payments for customers that buy fully electric or hybrid vehicles that use alternative fuel.

Regional marketability

Mindful that Qatar’s penchant for big cars and cheap petrol rates don’t necessarily incentivize residents to look for alternative options, McCluskey said he still anticipates that the car, once approved, would prove to be a success here.

“The idea is to show people what electric is, and what electric can do. We’re here to inspire. While some customers may buy the car as a novel addition or a toy car, we have greater aspirations for it,” he said.

He added that the car could be used as first responder vehicles in malls, parks, conference halls like the Qatar National Convention Center, Souq Waqif and the airport.

Photo for illustrative purposes only.
Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Currently, the golf carts that are used by medics and emergency staff only reach speeds of 10 km/hr, while the Twizy can do 65 km/hr. “In crises, time is everything, and we hope that these cars can be used to that effect.”

However, not everyone sees a bright future for electric cars in the Gulf.

In an article in Qatar Today last year, Thomas Milz, the managing director of Volkswagen Middle East, said that the region’s climate could render electric models ineffectual.

“The move to electric cars in this region would especially be in the summer months very, very challenging. An electric car needs to have the power for driving from the batteries. If those batteries are also used for air conditioning, that would drain the batteries dramatically,” he said.

He added that other eco-friendly technologies like compressed natural gas engines and hybrid cars, which use a combination of fuel and electricity to run, could be more practical green driving options for the Middle East.

In fact, Takayuki Yoshitsugu, the MENA representative for Toyota and Lexus, told Doha News that the Lexus LS 660 Hybrid, which uses a petrol engine with an electric motor, is one of Lexus Qatar’s more popular offerings.

Would you drive an electric car in Qatar? Thoughts?

16 COMMENTS

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AEC
AEC
6 years ago

Wouldn’t a Tesla Roadster be about the coolest car you could have in Qatar? “Of course I’ve got my own charge station!” & what about the acceleration?!

sicti
sicti
6 years ago
Reply to  AEC

Depends whether you’re uphill or downhill :)))

Swarm
Swarm
6 years ago

Nice show. Reminds me of the PICANTO.

Jaded
Jaded
6 years ago

who’s going to drive in a miniature death trap like that on the streets of Doha, they’ll have to pick your remains out of the LC’s front grille

DavidRSS8
DavidRSS8
6 years ago

The lifespan of one of these tiny cars would be about 10 minutes in Doha traffic. An LC at speed would not even notice hitting it. They are just about the right size for a coffin.

MrJames
MrJames
6 years ago

The Twizy doesn’t have the option of air conditioning, so it’s borderline useless in Qatar.

Yacine
Yacine
6 years ago

Oh dear! Is this a car for people here? It is more like a toy and driving this kind of cars in Qatar roads is very risky. I am more than happy to drive an electric car but I want the same models sold in showrooms in hybrid versions. That’s it and it is not difficult at all, since most models usually exist now in hybrid versions sold in Europe and the U.S., but for some reason dealerships do not want to bring them here.

Coco
Coco
6 years ago

I’d buy one to drive around the living room. Maybe get two, put some extra rubber on the bumpers and invite friends over to bump into each other.

Daniel Schriefer
Daniel Schriefer
6 years ago

I think this one would do: http://www.nanoflowcell.com/en

hawkeye31
hawkeye31
6 years ago

What’s the point of owning an electric car here? You’re not saving money because petrol prices are so low, and you’re not saving the environment, since electricity here is generated by burning LNG (or a similar fossil fuel)

Jaxu
Jaxu
6 years ago
Reply to  hawkeye31

Well to be honest, an electric engine is far more efficient than a gasoline engine. So you’d save the environment than if you used a gasoline car.

But you are right. First the car is way too expensive. Then there’s no air conditioning and it only can carry 2 people. Not to mention as everyone says, it looks like a death trap.

If you want to be fuel/environmentally conscious in Qatar, a hybrid car or an electric sedan like Tesla Model S is more suitable.

MrJames
MrJames
6 years ago
Reply to  hawkeye31

I’ve driven a Tesla Model S in London, and it’s easily one of the best cars I’ve ever driven, electric or not. Luxurious, VERY quick and in a relatively small country like Qatar, where most journeys are short, the range isn’t an issue.

Osama Alassiry AlMaadeed

A useless car:
1- Not according to the standards, you can’t register one here.
2- No A/C.

It was like a toy at the motor show…

MarkDoha
MarkDoha
6 years ago

I was fortunate enough to drive a Twizzy for a week in the South of France. It was incredibly good fun, just perfect for zipping around narrow town streets. As an everyday drive in Doha? Not a chance, my life is valuable to me. As a commercial vehicle to drive around industrial or warehouse complexes? Great idea.

Daniel Schriefer
Daniel Schriefer
6 years ago

This country is so small that it could be covered totally by a public transport system. There would be no need for individual cars at all. The air would be clean and accidents would be almost non-existing. But, who would want that?

OPQ
OPQ
6 years ago

Bring a Tesla to Qatar and then we’ll talk.

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