Electric vehicles are necessary for smart and sustainable cities to grow, Masdar City’s head of master planning said during the Electric Vehicle Innovation Summit (EVIS) 2023 that is currently underway in Abu Dhabi.

The event sheds light on the latest EV innovations, creative solutions, and challenges that stand in the way of a mass transition to electric vehicles.

During a presentation titled: ‘Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Development in the Middle East’, Lukas Sokol noted that Masdar City has incorporated electric vehicles in its mobility infrastructure to support its vision of a healthy, modern, and eco-friendly city. In 2008, the city introduced its personal rapid transport (PRT) electric vehicles, which transport passengers in four-person pods on an underground track from the city’s North Car Park to the downtown core, called the podium. They were considered the first publicly accessible autonomous EVs.

“We refer to the first-generation PRT as the history of the future. It has been in operation for 15 years and has carried over two million people.”

The use of EVs at Masdar City continued to evolve. The second generation of PRT, called Navya, transports people on top of the podium, which is car-free, and interacts with the public realm.

“We are still exploring PRT 3.0, which we would like to see drive on main streets and not be limited to Masdar City.”

Sokol noted that EVs are ideal for smart, multi-functional, neighbourhood-based cities.

“While EVs may not be ideal for long road trips given the challenges of charging en-route, EVs are perfect for commuting to and from work, and for taking care of day-to-day needs given they can be charged at home.”

In addition to introducing PRT and being the first location in the world to offer Tesla for car-sharing through Ekar app, Masdar City has kept its various business, academic and residential assets within close proximity to encourage walking, cycling, and scootering as primary mobility options.

“When a city facilitates walking as a primary option, it automatically becomes more sustainable. But given that it may not be realistic for entire cities to be walkable today, cities that want to be smart and sustainable need to factor EVs into the equation,” Sokol added.

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