In light of the steady climb of oil prices, which continues to add to the cost burdens of consumers, many people are weighing options to cut back or put off non-essential purchases.
Besides spending less on fancy cloths, accessories, and dining out, many cost-conscious individuals are also mentally preparing themselves for the day when they will ditch their large, luxury gas-guzzling SUVs in favour of small, economical vehicles. And with the advent of eco-friendly rechargeable electric cars on the global scene, that day is fast approaching here in Oman!
But for environment-conscious individuals, several versions of hybrid cars — running on a combination of electricity and fuel — have already been introduced into the local market. A number of international auto agencies have begun promoting electric vehicles and are receiving a good response. Costing between RO 8000 — 10,000 apiece, these hybrids can run for more than 320km on a single charge. Some work by converting mechanical or solar power to electrical power.
In parallel with this trend, the demand for large SUVs and new models is on the decline, according to a showroom agent who asked to remain anonymous.
“Over the last two years, we haven’t seen a lot of demand for new models in general,” the agent said.
“Customers are becoming more conscious of the fuel consumption ratings of the cars they have in mind to buy, the mileage, performance and so on. One other trend we have noticed is an increased preference for second-hand vehicles or electric cars.”
Some converts to electric cars are already excited about their eco-friendly modes of transport. Al Omairi, the proud owner of a hybrid car, said: “The hybrid vehicle, which runs on a combination of battery power and fuel, saves me a lot of money. One advantage is that I don’t have to top up regularly the way I used to with my last vehicle, because it automatically recharges the battery when the speed falls below 40 km per hour.”
Al Omairi has no regrets about his purchase. “It’s been a couple of months now since I purchased the vehicle. The design and shape are unique and distinctive. Moreover, it is easy to maintain and service as well.”
Also appealing to prospective customers are the environment friendly features of electric cars. According to Ergon Energy, an electricity retailer to homes and businesses in Queensland, electric vehicles help to reduce harmful air pollution, use renewable energy, and are manufactured from recycled and bio-based materials.
The International Energy Agency (IEA) says that the number of electric vehicles touched two million units last year. The manufacturers are big auto brands like Toyota, General Motors, Volkswagen and Renault, in addition to Tesla Motors, the maker of the world’s first ever premium all-electric sedan, based in California, USA.
Globally, many countries have started investing in this field as the oil crisis is affecting all international markets. This may be an advantage where fuel price is higher than the electricity price, as in Europe and the US. With new designs for electric vehicles coming on the market, the IEA predicted that sales of such cars will go up by 40 per cent by 2040, with demand reaching 600 million vehicles.
Zainab al Nassri