Sustainable mobility gains traction in UAE

The automotive market in the UAE is becoming a testbed for battery electric and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles

The all-electric Eco-bus manufactured in the UAE.
The all-electric Eco-bus manufactured in the UAE.
Toyota Mirai.
Toyota Mirai.

Sustainable mobility is gaining momentum in the UAE with the launch and trial runs of both battery electric and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.

A zero-emissions bus designed specifically for hot climates was unveiled in January 2018 at the Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week event.

The Eco-bus, manufactured in the UAE, is an all-electric vehicle with a lightweight aluminium body and dimensions of 10.5m x 2.5m x 3.2m.

It uses temperature-resistant, water-cooled batteries located at its rear to enhance space efficiency.

The bus has a range of up to 150km per charge when driven on a stop-start basis. It seats 27 with safe-standing room for additional passengers. A low-entry floor offers easy boarding.

The Eco-bus project is being developed as a template for future sustainable public transport solutions.

The working prototype was jointly developed by Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company (Masdar) and Abu Dhabi-based Hafilat Industry in collaboration with the Masdar Institute, part of Khalifa University of Science and Technology.

Technology partner Siemens provided the bus’s engine giving the vehicle a range of 150km per charge while minimising the size and weight of its battery.

Iyad Al Ansari, CEO of Hafilat Industry, said: “The Eco-Bus design is highly scalable, and we look forward to demonstrating the commercial viability of our prototype.”

Uwe Troeger, senior executive vice president, digital factory and process industries and drives, Siemens Middle East, said: “This highly efficient traction motor technology is in operation around the world including Europe, North America and China, and we’re proud to be working with partners here in the UAE to develop the Eco-bus for sustainable transport in the Middle East. We believe strongly that co-creation and partnerships are key to encourage local innovation, and the Eco-Bus is a perfect example of what can be achieved with the right partners, technology and mindset.”

The Eco-bus will undergo trials at Masdar City in Abu Dhabi as engineers evaluate the performance of its battery and electrical systems in the UAE’s arid conditions.

Khalid Al Hashim, executive director for surface transport at Abu Dhabi department of transport, said: “High temperatures throughout the year have been an obstacle to the wider use of electric vehicles in the Gulf, which the Eco-bus promises to address. The Eco-Bus integrates with a number of sustainable mobility initiatives under way in Abu Dhabi and the UAE and complements the diversification goals of the UAE Vision 2021.”

Masdar City has been a pioneer of sustainable mobility, introducing the world’s first permanent driverless Personal Rapid Transit (PRT) system in 2010, which had carried more than 2 million passengers by the end of 2016.

An extension to the PRT system is currently being evaluated. Masdar Institute researchers advised the Eco-bus design team on parts and materials, battery management, cooling, energy consumption, route planning and environmental impact auditing.

Yousef Baselaib, executive director of sustainable real estate at Masdar, said: “Urban sustainability will increasingly be defined by innovation in mobility, and Masdar City will be at the centre of this shift towards more sustainable transport solutions. The Eco-Bus is an impressive example of home-grown clean-tech innovation and a model collaboration between UAE and international experts. Rolling out the Eco-Bus for use at Masdar City will hopefully inspire other UAE clean-tech innovators while enhancing the performance of electric buses in hot climates.”

Toyota bets on hydrogen to change the UAE mobility landscape

After launching the Toyota Prius hybrid electric car in the UAE in 2016, the company introduced the zero-emission hydrogen-powered fuel cell electric Toyota Mirai in 2017, aimed at studying the possibilities of establishing a hydrogen-based, carbon-free society.

As part of the programme, the Mirai is being showcased to government stakeholders and is taking part in a number of events to give the public an understanding the future of zero-emissions motoring.

In December 2017, the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) in Dubai launched the trial run of the Toyota Mirai as part of the Dubai Taxi Fleet, in collaboration with Al Futtaim Motors.

The RTA also announced that it will start a trial run of the vehicle as part of its limousine service in the Dubai International Airport to assess the economic feasibility and environmental benefits of its operation and verify the efficiency of the engine, maintenance cost and other parameters.

In 2017, Al Futtaim Motors, in collaboration with Air Liquide, opened the first hydrogen refilling station in the UAE at the Dubai Festival City.

Toyota also announced a collaboration agreement with Masdar, Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC), Air Liquide, and Al-Futtaim Motors in a joint research program to explore the potential of hydrogen energy use in the UAE for the creation of a sustainable, low-carbon society.

Toyota's electrified vehicle strategy centres on a significant acceleration in the development and launch plans of hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs), plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs), battery electric vehicles (BEVs) and fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs).

By around 2030, Toyota aims to have sales of more than 5.5 million electrified vehicles, including more than 1 million zero-emission vehicles (BEVs, FCEVs).

Additionally, by around 2025, every model in the Toyota and Lexus line-up around the world will be available either as a dedicated electrified model or have an electrified option.

This will be achieved by increasing the number of dedicated HEV, PHEV, BEV, and FCEV models and by generalizing the availability of HEV, PHEV and/or BEV options to all its models.

Matthew Clark, general manager, Toyota sales operations, Al-Futtaim, said: “HEV technology is a readily available solution for the UAE’s environmental challenge. The first hydrogen refilling station in the UAE is the stepping stone for the gradual detachment from fossil fuel and a greater reliance on electric power through the promotion of fuel cell electric vehicles.”

Dr Katsuhiko Hirose, professional partner and senior advisor for future technology, Toyota, indicated the potential of hydrogen to change the global mobility landscape. He said: “Now more and more renewable energy is being used but it needs a vector to transport and store it. Hydrogen is the ideal storage solution and it will play an important role not only in the transport sector in the decarbonisation of the whole society.”




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