Cars today are one of the most popular and comfortable travel options. However, despite the significant number of advantages, they have several disadvantages. One of the main drawbacks is that vehicles cause considerable damage to the environment. Moreover, gasoline cars are a relatively expensive means of transport due to recent rapid price increase for petroleum products. These facts show that countries have begun considering the development and utilization of more environmentally friendly cars to reduce pressure on environment and economic systems. Therefore, the impact of electric vehicles on environment and urban sustainability has been examined, indicating that such means of transport can become an alternative to the convenient ones.
Electric Vehicle Impact
Schlesinger (2014), in his article, investigates the impact of electric vehicles on oil consumption. He indicates that electric cars deepen the reductions of oil consumption in all industries and continue the global trend in reducing the oil and gas export and import. He admits that the current situation within the automobile industry and consumer sector reveals the upward trend and growing interest in electric cars and hybrids (Schlesinger, 2014). The author assumes that the further development of “green” cars will dramatically affect major oil exporters, especially the UAE and Saudi Arabia. Nonetheless, Schlesinger concludes that the increase in the number of electric vehicles will stimulate oil exporters to change their economies and find more sustainable path for both economic and infrastructure sustainability.
Rutten and Cobbenhagen (2019) also investigate the rapid growth of the electric vehicles segment. They show that the current trends within economic, social, and environmental fields support the further integration of ecological means of transport. They assume that such popularity is due to social media and the internet, where consumers present their experience with electric vehicles and stimulate other car owners to change their traditional cars.
Moreover, Rutten and Cobbenhagen state that the environmental aspect of electric cars also contributes to the spread of such cars. The authors conclude that global trends, such as social responsibility, environmental awareness, and personal attentiveness to the environment will only strengthen their positions so that electric vehicles will be seen as tools to achieve sustainability and a better quality of life.
Al-Ogaili et al. (2019) explore advantages and disadvantages, which electric vehicles have. Nonetheless, the opportunities which are delivered by electric cars suggest that they can replace the convenient transportation in a next 10-15 years (Al-Ogaili et al., 2019). The benefits of electric vehicles are:
- Lower fuel costs. The cost of gasoline is continually growing and often spent in large quantities, which devastates the family budget. The cost of electricity to recharge the battery should be much less than these costs.
- Reducing environmental pollution. A working electric car engine does not emit harmful gases into the environment. Ideally, to minimize the impact on the environment, it should be produced from clean, renewable energy sources.
- Noise reduction. Electric cars can provide quiet, smooth, and faster acceleration.
- Security. Electric vehicles go through the same testing procedures as ordinary cars. Thus, in the event of a collision, airbags will be triggered, collision sensors will turn off the batteries so that the electric vehicle will stop. For example, the Tesla Model S electric car in 2013 received the highest safety rating of all cars ever tested in the USA.
- The lower cost. Gone are the days when electric cars cost much money. Previous batteries were costly, but with mass production, their price is reduced (Wang, Besselink and Nijmeijer, 2016).
- Reliability. Due to the smaller number of parts and assemblies, the safety of an electric vehicle is increased, and, as a result, the cost of repairs and maintenance is reduced.
Disadvantages of electric vehicles are:
- Stations for recharging. In 2016, Dubai planned to open a network of recharging stations in the city, but so far, the infrastructure is in its development stage.
- Electricity is not free. It is worth paying attention to the fact that electric vehicles have different power consumption.
- Low mileage and limited speed. Most electric cars can travel from about 160 to 240 km without recharging. Although some models promise to go up to 480 km without recharging.
- Recharge time. It takes about 8-10 hours to charge an electric car fully.
- The small number of passengers. Electric vehicles are not designed to transport the whole family, which means that a trip with three people may already be uncomfortable.
- Battery replacement. Replacement is done every 3–10 years.
- In winter, the battery consumes more energy for interior heating, brushes, and headlights. This leads to the fact that mileage in winter is reduced by 30-50% compared with the summer period.
Al-Ogaili et al. (2019) also investigate the impact of electric cars on urban infrastructure. The authors highlight the changes, which are made to build and establish three-level charges for electric cars, meaning that the spread of such transport will only grow. Al-Ogaili et al. (2019) conclude that with the technological advancement in charging systems, electric vehicles will gain additional boost and interest from consumers to purchase and utilize such cars.
Impact on Dubai Sustainability
There are many nuances in the use of electric vehicles; however, it is believed that in the future people will resolve them. Balajiand Soori (2019) reveals that the most prominent contribution of electric vehicles for Dubai communities is a reduction of environmental pollution. People consider hybrids, which can significantly minimize the disadvantages of purely electric models so that environmental problems start to resolve. In Dubai, the authorities believe that the constraining factors for the growth of the electric car market in the city and the region are:
- Lack of attention to the environmental aspect by the state and citizens.
- The relatively low cost of gasoline and diesel fuel.
- Weak and slow infrastructure development due to the vast territory and significant length of roads.
Nevertheless, driving a car with an internal combustion engine will soon lose its attractiveness, and electric vehicles will become the future means of the transportation. New models of vehicles with electric traction can compete in power with a car with an internal combustion engine (Saxena and Al-Tamimi, 2018). Saxena and Al-Tamimi indicate that Tesla Model S has released an electric supercar, a full-fledged electric vehicle with acceleration to 100 km/h in just 6 seconds and a top speed of more than 200 km/h, but its price is $ 100,000, which is a luxury for most people. With the appearance of more affordable vehicles, the Dubai’s automobile market and infrastructure will rapidly evolve from oil-centric ones to the solar-powered one.
Besides, Farid (2017) indicates that Dubai suffers from small number of fast-charging stations. In this case, the city’s solutions for the problem only partially cover the demand for electric vehicle and charging stations for them (Farid, 2017). Dubai develops its infrastructure; however, more advanced technologies are needed to follow the global trend. He concludes that, today, there are various ways to charge electric vehicles:
- The method of charging an electric car from a household electrical network is called slow charging. The battery charging process lasts 8 hours.
- The charging method at specially equipped stations is called fast charging. Within 20-30 minutes, the battery is almost fully charged.
- Replacing a cell with a fully charged one, which is carried out only at Tesla Supercharger charging stations, is called a “hot” battery replacement, which can be done in 2 minutes. To date, the most significant number of fast-charging stations is in Japan, and in Dubai and the U.S. – the largest amount of slow charging stations.
EVs Future in Dubai
One of the areas of most significant influence on humanity is undoubtedly green energy sources. The reserves of coal and oil are finite, and in a few centuries, they will run out. An alternative energy source for cars is needed and may become a new solution to the current struggles with electric vehicles. Electricity generation is a process that does not harm the ecology of our planet, transforming solar energy, wind, wave energy, gradient-temperature energy, tidal energy, geothermal energy into electricity.
Mohan and Sayel (2018) reveal that the demand for electric cars can change significantly in the following cases. Firstly, with a 10-fold increase in gas prices in the country, that is a deterioration in the situation with exhaustible energy resources (oil and gas reserves). Secondly, a reduction in the price of electric cars, which will be possible as a result of a technological breakthrough. They assume that the DEWA initiative should be more adopted in Dubai and the UAE; however, they also admit that many investments are needed to cover all infrastructure projects, like charging stations, public transport support, and encouragement of private vehicles’ purchase.
Today, analyzing the state of production of electric vehicles, it can be concluded that manufacturers are trying to lower prices for electric cars. Almost all major manufacturers of electric vehicles: Mitsubishi, Peugeot, Citroen, Nissan, Renault, Toyota, Kia, Honda, BMW in the next ten years plan to enter the Dubai market or launch production of new electric models (Singh, 2015). As predicted by the International Energy Agency, the global fleet of electric vehicles will increase by almost 200 times by 2025 will reach 200 million units of cars (Wang et al., 2018). With the increase in the number of electric vehicles, the issue of infrastructure is becoming more acute.
In 2016, a project was launched in Dubai and the region to develop a network of charging stations. The launch of a network of charging stations in the areas will be feasible when electric vehicles become available to the mass consumer according to Galapitage and Pudney’s research. (2016). However, one station, which allows charging an electric car in 20-30 minutes, is enormously expensive – about 30 thousand dollars. On the contrary, the scholars admit that the prices for the next generation of chargers and stations decline, making each next charger or station cheaper than their predecessors.
Nonetheless, recent studies indicate that three types of car charging stations are being built in Dubai. The fast-charging stations for electric car batteries (from 20 to 45 minutes for 80 percent charge) will be located at gas stations (Kiani, 2017). Those stations that charge batteries entirely in 2-4 hours will be located in parking lots of shopping centers, office buildings, and parks. Stations for the night charging will be installed on the parking lot at the house (6-8 hours) (Balaji and Soori, 2019). When charging at stations located in public places, the tariff is 29 fils ($ 0.08) per kilowatt-hour, and when using the house stations, the usual fare for residential premises will be applied.
The first charging station in the UAE appeared in 2012 in the city of the future Masdar, located in Abu Dhabi, as part of a pilot project. The first charging station for electric cars in Dubai has already been officially registered with DEWA (Al-Ogaili et al., 2019). It is located at the head office of this utility provider. The effective use of electric vehicles is impossible without an extensive network of charging stations, covering not only one city, but the whole country (Mohan and Sayel, 2018). Otherwise, they are just an expensive toy, not able to affect the state of the environment (Nassiri et al., 2018). However, hybrid cars are already gaining ground on the roads of Dubai. One of the Dubai taxi companies, Cars Taxi, is going to transfer its entire fleet to hybrid cars in five years.
Electric cars in taxis, as a rule, not only save money for business owners but also increase the level of interest and customer loyalty specifically to this service. Akre and Yankova (2019) explore this trend and why it is environmentally friendly and modern. These reasons are not only an incentive for the purchase of Tesla in Dubai (Akre and Yankova, 2019). The investment is tied to the goal of the Dubai Future Foundation’s – to use autopilot cars to move around the city.
Authorities want self-driving cars to account for 25% of trips by 2030, according to Virtudes, Abbara and Sá (2017). For this purpose, all Tesla vehicles will be equipped with an autopilot. Still, the system is currently limited and requires driver assistance, which entails some controversy and misunderstanding, since, in the eyes of the public, an autopilot is a car that does not need to be driven (Sever et al., 2019). For now, Tesla cannot provide such functionality – SAE Level 5, a car that can cope with all tasks on its own.
In such circumstances, in Dubai, the new generation of vehicles is now developing. This is an electric car of a definitely new generation, the so-called robot mobile. It must independently move around the city without a driver and find a parking place. Mahmud and Town (2016) devote research for computerized tools in electric vehicles and transportation. They indicate that the current technological achievements within Dubai and the country allows companies to explore and develop vehicles completely independent from human control. The so-called robot mobile must solve the problem of parking spaces and traffic jams in the crowded cities of the future (Mahmud and Town, 2016).
According to engineers, this will be a universal access machine, when a person needs a car, the robot mobile drives up. It can be used to deliver the person to the target, and then it will return to the garage, from where the next user can call the vehicle.
Robot mobile will navigate the city using a satellite navigator. Numerous cameras and sensors will help the vehicle to distinguish between people and other cars on the street. The vehicle is equipped with many sensors, where some cameras are installed on the roof, providing a 360-degree view. The information from them is transmitted to a central computer, which evaluates it in real-time and, based on this, draws the trajectory of movement (While, Kovacic and Marvin, 2020).
Thanks to its electronic brain, the robot mobile will be able to ride back or forward at the same speed, people will not need to turn, and if they still have to, steering with all the swivel wheels will assist to secure the drive. Inside the wheel, all the details that are in an ordinary car are built-in, there is a drive that provides movement of the machine, each wheel is controlled separately. The electric motor of the robot mobile is hiding under the wheel rim, making room for batteries in the body, and, most importantly, for passengers (While, Kovacic and Marvin, 2020). The weight of the wheel increases, and so that it does not become less elastic, scientists have developed a fundamentally new electronic chassis.
In a robot mobile, a person can only observe how the on-board computer is engaged in driving. It controls the car on the road and directly controls the four motors inside the wheels, which means it stimulates and accelerates (While, Kovacic and Marvin, 2020). The features of this machine are that the drivers do not control anything directly; there is no steering wheel, no brake pedal; everything is processed through commands. Using an input device, they are processed by a computer, and it transfers them to the wheels.
The development of electric vehicles in Dubai is only entering its maturity stage. The network of charging stations is relatively small and has low efficiency in charging electric cars. Nonetheless, the city invests in this technology, as the urban sustainability and shift toward the green sources of energy and fuel are becoming a new trend and alternative to the traditional means of transport. In this case, the future and impact of electric vehicles on Dubai’s infrastructure can be seen even today, as the city rapidly moving toward complete replacement of public and private transport with hybrids and EVs.
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