Electric vehicles (EV) entering the UAE will have to meet with new standards formulated by the Emirates Authority for Standardisation and Metrology (Esma), which came into effect last month, Gulf News can confirm.
As part of its efforts to reduce the country’s carbon footprint and develop a sustainable economy, the UAE has been aggressively promoting the use of eco-friendly vehicles, but the country until recently lacked a federal law or standards to regulate the sale and use of the battery-powered vehicles.
Filling the gap, Esma has been working with international agencies and Gulf Standards Organisation (GSO) drawing up the standards to regulate the electric vehicles in the country.
The standards that came into effect last month specify the minimum requirements the EVs entering the UAE should meet, including the material used in the batteries, its adaptability to local weather conditions as well as crash and fire safety levels.
“The regulations have been drawn up and approved by the UAE cabinet. It has been rolled out and all manufacturers and authorised dealers of the vehicles are aware of the requirements,” said Abdullah Al Muaini, Director-General of Esma.
One of the key focus areas of the standards is the compatibility of the batteries used to power the engines to the hot and humid climate of the UAE.
“Electric vehicles have been in operation in the United States and Europe for quite some time and most of these vehicles are manufactured and tested in the cooler climes that is why we were particularly concerned about the performance of the batteries when exposed to higher temperatures,” said Al Muaini.
In addition to enduring high ambient temperature, the vehicles’ ability to withstand sand storms and dusty conditions, which are common in the UAE, factors highly in the regulations.
The standards also specify requirements related to protection of drivers and passengers against electric shock.
Safety of batteries against explosion due to overheating is another key component of the standards.
Another important feature of the standards is the safety of the vehicles in case of front and side impact.
“Crash tests have been conducted on the several models of the popular EVs and any EVs entering the UAE should have a crash test certificate conforming to the safety standards of the international technical regulations,” said Al Muaini.
The regulation specifies a test procedure to determine the ‘electric range’ and electric energy consumption of EVs.
Esma in association with GSO are adopting the international standards like United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) and Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS) of the United States to specify the highest safety requirement for electric cars in accordance with local climatic conditions.
Another important aspect Esma is looking at is emergency and accident response.
“We are working with the Civil Defence and police to establish an emergency rescue mechanism. We have worked out with these authorities on how to deal with these vehicles when they meet with accidents to ensure there is no fire or explosions,” said Al Muaini.
Hybrid vehicles, electric powered buses as well as electric cars have been plying on the UAE roads, particularly in Dubai, for the last few years, with several auto manufacturers currently marketing EVs as part of their latest line-up of models across the country.
Recently, Toyota launched its most popular EV, Prius, indicating that EVs have finally arrived in the UAE.
Dubai has spearheaded the drive to promote electric vehicles with the launch of EV charging stations as well as putting in place the mechanism and apparatus to inspect and register the vehicles.
According to Roads and Transport Authority (RTA), Dubai already has around 200 electric vehicles registered, including around 50 light passenger vehicles, apart from electric powered construction and commercial vehicles as well as buses.