UAE accelerates EV adoption to meet 2050 carbon neutrality goals

The UAE is intensifying its efforts to transition to e-Mobility as part of its ambitious plan to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. According to a recent report by PwC Middle East, the nation is making significant strides in decarbonising its transportation sector, with a comprehensive strategy focused on increasing the adoption of electric vehicles (EVs).
Bar chart showing the share of internal combustion engines (ICE) and electric vehicles (EV) sold in the UAE from 2024 to 2035. EV sales increase from 3% in 2024 to 24% in 2035, while ICE sales decrease from 97% to 75% over the same period.
Source: PwC

The UAE has already converted 20% of its federal government agency vehicles to electric powertrains. The target for 2030 was recently updated to include having electric and hybrid vehicles comprise 50% of all vehicles on the road by 2050, as announced during COP28.

Rapid Growth in Dubai and Abu Dhabi

Dubai is leading the charge, with the number of electric vehicles in the city increasing from 15,100 in 2022 to 25,929 by the end of 2023. The Dubai Water and Electricity Authority (DEWA) has been instrumental in this growth, aiming to expand the city’s network of public Green Charging Stations by 170%, from 370 in 2023 to 1,000 by 2025. This initiative is part of Dubai’s broader Clean Energy Strategy 2050 and Green Mobility Strategy 2030, which are designed to support the adoption of electric and hybrid vehicles.

Abu Dhabi is also making notable progress, although electric vehicles currently represent less than 1.3% of the total vehicles in the region. To address this, the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company for Distribution (ADNOC Distribution) and the Abu Dhabi National Energy Company (TAQA) have launched a joint venture, E2GO, to develop and operate EV charging infrastructure. The emirate plans to install 70,000 EV charging points by 2030, significantly expanding the current network of around 250 public charging stations.

Infrastructure and Cost Challenges

Despite these advancements, the report highlights several challenges that need to be addressed to meet the ambitious targets. These include making the total cost of ownership (TCO) of EVs competitive with internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles, expanding EV charging infrastructure, and increasing the variety and availability of EV models.

The UAE’s electricity generation capacity is sufficient to support the anticipated rise in EVs, but the energy mix remains heavily reliant on fossil fuels. The report stresses the importance of increasing the share of renewable energy to maximise the environmental benefits of EVs. Currently, the public charging infrastructure is identified as a significant bottleneck. Although the UAE has been investing heavily in renewable energy projects, the current rollout of public charging points is not keeping pace with the projected demand.

Line chart showing public charge point demand versus availability in the UAE until 2035. Demand (orange line) rises from 6,000 in 2025 to 45,000 in 2035, while the rollout speed (dashed yellow line) only reaches 10,000, highlighting a significant gap.
Source: PwC

Future Outlook

PwC Middle East estimates that by 2030, EVs will account for more than 15% of new passenger car and light commercial vehicle sales in the UAE, rising to 25% by 2035. However, the development of EV charging infrastructure needs to accelerate to meet the forecasted demand of 45,000 charging points by 2035. At the current rate of rollout, there will only be 10,000 charging points available by that time, highlighting the urgent need for a more aggressive infrastructure expansion.

Strategic Recommendations

The report provides several key recommendations to facilitate the UAE’s transition to electric mobility. These include providing financial incentives to encourage EV adoption, such as tax incentives, reduced registration fees, and subsidies for EV purchases. Establishing local EV manufacturing and assembly plants is also recommended to lower costs and increase market accessibility. Early-stage investments are already underway, with plans for an EV assembly plant in Abu Dhabi and solar-powered vehicle concepts being developed in Sharjah.

Engaging with industry stakeholders, including local industry associations, universities, and suppliers, is crucial for creating a supportive ecosystem for EV adoption. Public-private partnerships are also essential to accelerate the development of EV charging infrastructure. The report suggests that strategic locations for setting up public chargers could be identified using AI-based analysis of demographics, population density, traffic flows, and purchasing power data.

Enhancing Consumer Experience

The report also emphasises the importance of improving the consumer experience to drive EV adoption. This includes ensuring that sales and service staff are well-trained to educate consumers about EV technology, charging infrastructure, and maintenance. OEMs are encouraged to employ innovative digital campaigns to reach prospective EV customers, particularly in less populated areas where misconceptions about EV suitability for long journeys may persist.

Conclusion

As the UAE pushes forward with its electric mobility strategy, these efforts are critical to achieving its long-term carbon neutrality goals and positioning the country as a leader in sustainable transportation. The insights provided by PwC Middle East offer a roadmap for achieving these ambitious targets, underscoring the importance of a coordinated and comprehensive approach to e-mobility.

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