‘Carbon footprint’ and ‘adventure’ are two terms not always associated with one another. Adventures on foot or bicycle are inherently green, but who would have thought that a road trip adventure in a four-wheel vehicle could also drive environmental awareness?
The Global Electric Vehicle Road Trip (EVRT) team aims to deliver a road-trip with a difference, and has already toured the UK and across Europe. Their next challenge: the desert climate and challenging terrain of the United Arab Emirates, a planned tour across the seven Emirates where all vehicles will be fully-electric.
The Emirates EVRT mission is clear: To build an exciting road-trip that engages with UAE stakeholders and the public, showcasing the latest in sustainable transportation and accelerating the transition to a lower carbon economy.
Project Leader Ben Pullen explains why the Emirates EVRT is such a big deal:
“Just spotting an electric vehicle in the UAE is a big head-turner. We want everyone to see for themselves what these awesome cars can do. Most people are yet to experience the recent advances in transportation technology: they have never been in an electric car and the first picture that springs to mind is a golf buggy.”
His team are not worried about running out of power in the desert. They plan to build charging stations along their trip route, and if they can’t find one along the way, they will just plug into a three-pin socket at a nearby hotel.
The start line is in in Abu Dhabi, in January 2017. EVRT plans to welcome participants by offering Tesla driving experiences on a racing track. After launching from Masdar City, EVRT will proceed to the other six Emirates, showcasing futuristic vehicle technology and also bringing attention to sustainable energy and transportation investments across the country. The finish line is at Abu Dhabi’s World Future Energy Summit.
Ben believes he can kick-start an ‘electric revolution’ in the Middle East. But he says to do that, the Emirates EVRT needs to change beliefs and mindsets across government, car dealerships and the general public. He says one alone, won’t work:
“In Dubai, the government built 100 charging stations in the last year. This is a cause for celebration, except that there are only a handful of electric vehicles making use of them. Furthermore, only last week a target was set to make 10% of Dubai government vehicles electric or hybrid by 2030”.
There are signs that the electric revolution is already underway. EVRT is partnering with a group of EV enthusiasts, the Tesla GCC Group. This is a group of individuals who have taken the initiative to buy and import Tesla vehicles, and are driving them in the GCC despite no pre-existing infrastructure for charging and maintenance. EVRT is seeking to capture their knowledge and experiences and design a road-trip that recognises them as pioneers.
Rewind to earlier this year and EVRT spent March 2016 on their European tour. This was a whistle-stop trip, with the group driving Tesla Model ‘S’ cars 3,800km across 10 countries.
Even in Europe, Ben’s business partner Afeez Kay – who admits to charging his BMW i3 through his kitchen window – thinks there is a perception gap in the minds of the public, when it comes to electric vehicles: we all need to modernise and change our thinking when it comes to our knowledge about electric cars.
“The media perception hasn’t changed for years even though new electric cars are coming to the market. They are still saying the same things: electric cars take too long to charge, the range is only 50 miles, they are too expensive.. these concerns are obviously no longer true.”
Did you know, for example, that Tesla cars have a range of 250 miles, and accelerate from 0-60 miles per hour in under 4 seconds?
More technical arguments against electric vehicles claim that the positive environmental impact is negligible, and that safety remains a concern as batteries can explode. These claims have been disproven repeatedly. There are established standards and certifications that govern environment and safety; electric vehicles comply with all regulatory requirements. As Afeez says:
“If we tried to introduce the concept of petrol cars today, governments and regulators would not allow it. They’d say – no way, these vehicles carry tanks of highly flammable liquid and are hugely dangerous”.
Global EVRT truly believes that the challenge for sustainable transportation is global in nature. Looking ahead, the team has already begun planning for another European adventure in April, and new geographies in India and China during 2017-18.
For further information on Global EVRT visit: www.globalevrt.com
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