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Tesla takes on Gulf gas guzzlers
by Staff Writers
Dubai (AFP) Feb 13, 2017


Germany to expand infrastructure for electric vehicles
Brussels (UPI) Feb 13, 2017 - A plan by the German government to expand access to charging stations for electric vehicles is in line with state-aid rules, the European Commission said.

The German government plans to steer $320 million over four years to the increase access to high-speed charging stations for electric vehicles. Margrethe Vestager, a European commissioner in charge of competition policy, said the rules are in line with market guidelines for state assistance.

"Electric vehicles can provide real benefits to society by reducing harmful emissions and noise pollution," she said in a statement. "The German support scheme will encourage consumers and businesses to use electric vehicles."

The European Commission said the state support would align with broader bloc-wide efforts to improve air quality through low-emission vehicle options that fall under the European Union's decarbonization agenda.

Norway and the Netherlands lead Europe with market shares for electric vehicles, with 23 percent and 10 percent respectively. Germany as a whole has one of the greener economies in Europe, however, and Austrian energy company OMV announced an initiative in the country last year that envisions 400 hydrogen filling stations for alternative vehicles by 2023.

German utility group RWE, meanwhile, said it would work with port officials to create infrastructure to fuel vessels with cleaner-burning liquefied natural gas.

In January, the city of Essen in German was honored with a green-city award by a European body for transforming itself from a steel to an environmental leader. For future goals, the city aims to reduce car travel, a main contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, by 29 percent by 2035.

Bloc-wide, the transportation sector still accounts for a significant portion of total air pollution, though a report from the European Environment Agency found abatement support growing at the national and city levels.

Electric carmaker Tesla announced the opening of a new Gulf headquarters Monday in Dubai, aiming to conquer an oil-rich region better known for gas guzzlers than environmentally friendly motoring.

Elon Musk, the co-founder and chief executive of the American firm seeking to revolutionise the electric car market, was in the affluent city state to oversee the launch of the Gulf sales push.

"The time seems to be good to really make a significant debut in this region starting from Dubai," Musk told the World Government Summit under way in the emirate.

Dubai's official Media Office said that Musk met UAE Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, who welcomed Tesla's decision to set up its regional headquarters in the city state.

Sheikh Mohammed, who is also the ruler of Dubai, instructed local authorities to provide Tesla "with the services and logistic support" it needs, said the Media Office.

Dubai is one of seven emirates that make up the United Arab Emirates.

Once a sleepy fishing town, it has evolved into a regional business hub and a tourist magnet, thanks to huge investments in luxury resorts and shopping malls.

The emirate, seen as the most diversified in the Gulf, has a population of 2.5 million people, most of them expatriates.

Despite a state-of-the art metro, many people in Dubai and across the energy-rich Gulf region prefer to get around in SUVs or other luxury cars known to burn a lot of petrol.

Official figures released by Dubai's Roads and Transport Authority in 2015 showed that the number of vehicles in Dubai had doubled over the past eight years, leaving the Gulf emirate with more cars per person than New York or London.

If that trend continues, the number of vehicles registered could reach 2.2 million by 2020, when the emirate is due to host the Expo international trade fair.

Tesla announced last year plans to build self-driving technology into all its electric cars.

"My guess is probably that in 10 years it will be very unusual for cars to be built that are not fully autonomous," Musk told the Dubai summit on Monday.

"I think almost all cars built will be capable of full autonomy in about 10 years."

mah/hkb/dr

TESLA MOTORS


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