When one thinks of the United Arab Emirates, a common thought is "tremendous amount of oil reserves" and for good reason. The country has long been (and long will be) one of the largest petroleum exporters in the world. Yet the country has a strong commitment to sustainability in terms of both energy and water, with many initiatives by the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) including a major push toward electric cars as the region looks toward the future. 

Travel the world and electric cars are more prevalent in some regions (namely Europe) than in the United States and Canada. In fact, even observers from the Middle East noted the rental company trailblazers with electric cars in the United States (Enterprise and Hertz) were moving away from those offerings. And the reason was more than "low fuel prices" -- the rental car companies found that it's hard to rent a Nissan Leaf profitably due to horrendous depreciation. In addition, both the fleets of Leafs and many Teslas were recently out of revenue service due to recalls (major U.S. rental companies supported a law to block the rental of recalled vehicles).

And while electric rental vehicles are fading in the U.S., they are becoming more prevalent abroad. A new entity in the UAE, SelfDrive.AE, is taking advantage of the government's electric vehicle push and is renting out Renault Zoe vehicles for the equivalent of $1.36 USD per hour (AED5).

Image of the electric Zoe from Renault's U.K. website.

Sounds like a good deal? Our team likes driving all vehicles but electric vehicles have a special place in our hearts; gas-powered vehicles lack instant torque. And $1.36 per hour seems great, with a few notes ...

  • The $1.36 per hour is an introductory price (normal price is 2/3rds more expensive),
  • It's not very helpful to issue a quote of $1.36 per hour when a minimum reservation is 24 hours,
  • Which means the vehicle will normally be priced at more than $54 per day with limited range, and
  • There's a limitation of 250 kilometers (155 miles) per day.

The nice aspects of renting a SelfDrive.AE Renault Zoe? Aside from making a concerted effort to provide both electric and gasoline powered automobiles, the Dubai Electric and Water Authority (DEWA) is cheerfully throwing in some free parking opportunities and free charging at the limited number of charging ports (approximately 100 at the time of this writing). Just be considerate to other drivers who lack the acceleration of the Renault Zoe.

If SelfDrive's able to make electric cars work in the Dubai market given the incentives for consumers (both residents and visitors are eligible), we suspect the major companies would follow. And as an upstart organization ourselves, we get a charge from seeing other upstarts attempting to change the rental car industry!


Ready to rent your next rental vehicle? It's unlikely you'll be able to find an electric car in an average search today but we fully expect to see more opportunities in the next few years. And whether the vehicle is powered by gasoline, diesel, electricity, or a hybrid, we're always standing by to find the lowest rate possible. Click below to request a quote and we'll send you the lowest possible rates within minutes.

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