Nissan’s electric vehicles likely to hit UAE roads by 2014

Electric car aficionados might have to wait until late 2013 or early 2014 before they can drive the Nissan Leaf with lithium ion batteries out of local showrooms. The electric car, already available in the US and Japan since last Dec-ember, will be making it to the European markets this year.

But before they become a regular feature on the UAE — and indeed the Gulf — roads, a slate of requirements need to be gone through, according to a top official with Arabian Automobiles, Nissan’s local dealership.

"A key requirement would be to have dedicated recharging stations on the highways and that would have to be preceded by agreements reached with the authorities and others concerned," said Michel Ayat, CEO of AWR Automotives. "An electric car requires its own eco-system to operate at optimum capacity and that needs to be created from scratch."

It would take on average about 30 minutes for a Leaf owner to get the recharging done at the station on a fast-track basis. Or he could opt for the slower option of doing it overnight on his own at home, a process which would take about eight hours.

Arabian Automobiles recently shipped in one model of the electric car witjh lithium ion batteries to be exhibited at a recent industry event. Wider commercial possibilities, Ayat said, would have to wait.

"The current production run for the Leaf is all taken up for Japan and the US and any new markets that Nissan intends to release it," he said. "The Gulf is not a priority at the moment and would need to wait until 2014 before it gets a turn."

Ever since electric cars started moving out of automakers’ production lines — and these are still in the low numbers — they have had a novelty element as far as this region is concerned.

Moreover, with oil prices heavily subsidised, the chances of electric cars making a dent in the volume side is marginal at best.

But none of this has apparently stopped some from trying to import the Leaf on their own. So much so, Nissan’s Middle East operations have issued a statement against such imports.

In the statement, Nissan Motor Company Ltd. "strongly recommends customers not to purchase the Nissan LEAF through any unauthorised channels."