Two pieces of news this week could impact the car market in the UAE in coming years. For a start, Volvo has declared that every model it produces will be an electric or hybrid come 2019. That means, even though Volvo isn’t among the top 10 brands in the UAE, other companies are likely to follow suit at their own pace, which will encourage parking garages and petrol stations to install more charging points around the region.
The Volvo XC90 SUV is a modestly popular model in the UAE, but that could grow as people start to match luxury with a need to respect the environment. With high-specification interiors, 21-inch or 22-inch wheels and an understated shell, Volvo has the time to do something major to make the model more appealing.
The second piece of news could have more of an impact as France expects to ban petrol and diesel cars by the year 2040. If adopted elsewhere, that could set the agenda and a deadline for a worldwide conversion to electric vehicles. Of course, there’s a lot of politics to be discussed in the 23 years until that time, but if it does happen, or there’s a general push to 2050 which would give the rest of the world time to adapt, it could see how cars are designed, built and sold change radically around the world.
Electric cars might be dominated by the big marques, but these changes create new opportunities for smaller names to design novel or stylish models to compete. We’ve already seen the Lykan supercar and SandRacer born locally, and there will be many opportunities for new brands to create the mass market or niche electric cars of the future, best suited to the local environment.
However these plans or changes play out, they are part of a concerted effort to consign the petrol engine to history, so all those in the car business and every driver had better get ready and prepare for a changing world. You can bet some countries will adapt slower or faster, and it will be interesting to see how the UAE will pass laws or respond to the wider market changes.