More than any previous event, this year’s Dubai International Motor Show showed that the auto-industry, at least, believes that electric vehicles are here to stay in the region. It also offered a tease of an autonomous future.

There were plenty of the battery-powered cars that the organisers described as taking the motoring industry by storm.

The UAE home of the Show has certainly committed itself to lowering emissions and using clean energy, encouraging manufacturers to offer electric vehicles (EVs) as a future-now solution. With free charging also becoming more common in the country, it was unsurprising that vasts amount of exhibition space at the 15th edition of the Dubai International Motor Show was filled with new EVs.

As the show blurb noted: “Manufacturers are keen to show that going electric doesn’t just mean eliminating an internal combustion engine. The design, form and functionality of an electrical-based model gets a makeover too. Staying ahead of the global innovation in electrification, brands at the Dubai International Motor Show have been showcasing their sleek EVs.”

Enter stage-left a raft of new and cutting edge batteries on wheels, including Mercedes with the EQC, BMW with the i3, Jaguar with the I-PACE, General Motors (GM) with the Chevrolet Bolt, and Mitsubishi with the PHEV Outlander. And most announced that they would launch new or next generation model electric cars in the Middle East region in the next year. Also debuting in the Middle East for the very first time were China’s GAC Motor’s new electric vehicles – the AionS, and the GE3.

The event also brought with industry heavyweights like GM’s President John Roth who reinforced the company’s commitment to zero emissions, zero congestion and zero crashes with the roll out of the next generation Chevy Bolt and its Onstar connected car platform.

Meanwhile Bruce Robertson, managing director at Jaguar Land Rover Middle East and North Africa commented on Dubai and the region’s solid commitment to helping reduce carbon emissions by 16% by 2021, and claimed this aligned with its Jaguar I-PACE “which is set to redefine the electric vehicle space”.

Throughout the event, live demonstrations of how energy can be used were showcased across the show floor. Nissan offered visitors a chance to get a hands-on experience on what the future of energy-sharing looks like through the use of vehicle-to-grid (V2G) solutions which can be seen at the brand’s stand. Visitors are encouraged to produce energy for the Nissan LEAF that powers a barista station for a freshly brewed cup of cappuccino.

Nissan Middle East is showcasing at Dubai International Motor Show this year the brand’s unique concept of ‘Nissan Energy Share’, the company’s approach to changing how cars are powered, driven and integrated into society to drive awareness around sustainable living in the near future.

At a dedicated ‘Energy Sharing Corner’ built on Nissan’s stand at the show, the brand demonstrated its expertise from almost a decade of developing electric vehicles “to inspire conversations” about sustainability.

Through quick and fun feet tapping on Nissan’s colourful electric energy-sharing pads, visitors had the opportunity to produce energy as a currency to pay for their cup of freshly brewed cappuccino or hot-chocolate prepared at a barista station that runs purely off the iconic Nissan LEAF – the world’s best-selling electric car. As an extra taste, participants could opt to have their photo, taken at the station, or select one of the many Nissan images, on their beverage.

Nissan said it wants to use cutting-edge technology to allow owners of Nissan’s electric vehicles “to be able to easily connect their cars with energy systems and charge their batteries, power homes and businesses or feed energy back to power grids.”

Thierry Sabbagh, Managing Director of Nissan Middle East, added: “Electric vehicles are just one element of Nissan’s vision. Our ‘Energy Sharing Corner’ is the perfect way to showcase to customers how we can potentially revolutionise the way in which we generate and utilise energy.

“We want customers to experience the electric lifestyle for themselves and see that future living involves using their electric cars for much more than just driving – they can be used in nearly every aspect of their lives. Our Nissan Intelligent Mobility vision calls for changing how cars are integrated with society, and Nissan Energy turns that vision into reality.”

According to Sabbagh, Nissan has been a pioneer in EV technology for decades.

“In 2010 we introduced the world’s first mass-market EV, Nissan LEAF, that today is the world’s best-selling electric car surpassing 560,000 unit sales, solidifying the model’s role in the global shift toward sustainable mobility,” he said. “This year, through our ‘Energy Sharing Corner’, we showcased how we can potentially revolutionise the way in which we generate and utilise energy. We want customers to see that future living involves using their electric cars for much more than just driving – they can be used in nearly every aspect of their lives.”

That’s not to say the Japanese giant has turned its back on traditional power just yet. Indeed, inspired by one of the most iconic animals to inhabit the desert sands, the fleet-footed Gazelle, Nissan unveiled two exciting new concept cars – Gazelle Storm and Navara Gazelle at the show.

The company said the Gazelle Storm has been exclusively developed for customers in the Middle East, describing it as a one-off concept vehicle, that takes the iconic Nissan Patrol Super Safari concept of offering “an off-road experience that can conquer anywhere” with a higher approach angle and an on-board tire compressor.

This fits in perfectly with the off-roading culture of the region, it said: “It provides the key aspects for dune bashing, as well as extreme overland experiences that adventure enthusiasts are thirsty for.

The Gazelle Storm Concept is powered by a 4.8L 6-cylinder powerhouse, and in a nod to local tastes, embraces a premium and tough ‘Gazelle Storm’ leather interior and varying mood lights.

“Ready to conquer the great outdoors, the concept car also comes with a built-in protective storage box for off-road gear and camping equipment, storage drawers, a barbecue holder and food and beverage fridge,” said the launch notes.

“The Middle East inspired the very creation of the Patrol Safari range,” said Sabbagh. “With its rugged exterior good-looks, and superb off-roading capabilities that can conquer any terrain, the car has gained legendary status in the popular culture of the region. At Nissan we understand the importance and enduring popularity of this iconic nameplate to the people of the Gulf and in response to that demand, Nissan set out to create this exciting concept car.”

Another vehicle specifically developed for the region on a true workhorse truck, is the Navara Gazelle concept. The vehicle has newly designed bumpers, tailgate spoilers, enhanced suspension shocks, built-in compressor and a two-inch lift kit with all terrain tires. The 2.5-Litre Engines, offer a choice between diesel and gasoline, “make the most of power and efficiency whether cruising the streets pf Dubai or driving on the desert dunes.”

Returning to EVs, fellow Japanee manufacturer, Aspark, debuted its the record-breaking Aspark OWL, an all-electric Japanese hypercar powered by 1,150 horsepower and capable of going from 0-100kmph in less than two seconds. The fastest electric car ever made, the OWL – currently in production in Osaka – is promising buyers a top speed of 280kmph, with 300 kilometres of range on a full charge.

Mitsubishi Motors Middle East and Africa (MMMEA) decided to take its “Drive your Ambition” strategy to a new level, with the Middle East premiere of the much-awaited all-electric high-performance “Mitsubishi e-Evolution” SUV concept car.

The Mitsubishi e-Evolution is described by the company as a technical prototype that illustrates the strategic directions of a renewed Mitsubishi Motor Corporation (MMC) brand that incorporates the strengths of SUV, EV, and the ability to integrate new systems for a connected mobility customer experience.

Masahiko Takahashi, President at Mitsubishi Motors Middle East and Africa said: “Our global tagline “Drive your Ambition” amplifies Mitsubishi Motors’ commitment and efforts in creating vehicles that are exciting, dynamic, tough, Innovative, and smart to cater for customers’ needs around the world. This year, we are proud to present for the first time ever in the Middle East the Regional Preview of the Mitsubishi e-Evolution concept car, which embodies the company’s new adventurous and progressive brand strategy.”

The Mitsubishi e-Evolution Concept design uses all four-wheels, and the agility of a high-performance cross-country tourer coupled with MMC’s long and strong heritage of proven off-road performance, along with superior 4WD control.

The front face is a fresh take on MMC’s Archetypal Dynamic Shield – Now can be seen on the new 2020 Outlander PHEV, 2020 Montero Sport and 2020 ASX – design. The black grille is shielded under glass to give the car a subtle rendition that it is a high-performance electric vehicle. Protected under the glass, and accentuated by blue lines for emphasis, sit cameras and sensors. Large air intakes are located beneath the headlamps, ready to cool the electric brake calipers. Adding to the vehicle’s excellent aerodynamics, the drawn-in air passes jet tailfins on the C-pillars before exiting on either side of the rear bumper.

A sharply slanted front windshield and short overhangs give the vehicle a unique side profile that has not been possible before the arrival of electric propulsion. High ground clearance, short overhangs, strong shoulders, and narrow hips project nimbleness and agility. Muscular tires that protrude at the four corners communicate powerful 4WD torque. Bars running from front to rear along either side of the roof to enhance the vehicle’s muscular attitude. The large hexagon shape at the rear, draws inspiration from the spare tire cover of the quintessential SUV, the legendary Pajero.

The triple motor 4WD system employs a single motor to drive the front wheels, complemented by a new Dual Motor Active Yaw Control (AYC) system that couples two rear motors through an electronically controlled torque-vectoring AYC unit. All of this is integrated into MMC’s unique Super All-Wheel Control (S-AWC) vehicle dynamic control system. Cornering performance and traction performance are improved. The brakes responsively and precisely control the driving forces with the help of electric calipers that supersede the conventional hydraulic caliper.

The brain of the Mitsubishi e-Evolution Concept is an AI system that augments the driver’s capabilities. An array of sensors allows the AI system to instantly read changes in road and traffic conditions, as well as the driver’s intent to support drivers of all abilities by making it easier and safer to control the vehicle. A special coaching function allows the AI system to transfer knowledge to the driver, and to unobtrusively enhance the driving expertise. After building a picture of the driver’s skill level, the system constructs a training program that provides advice through voice dialogue and a large dashboard display. As a result, drivers of all abilities quickly experience a vehicle that behaves the way they want.

Beyond the electric debuts, the Mercedes-Benz V-Class arrived with an impressive new look. Focusing on safety, the new model features new driver assistance systems, front-end design, exterior colour choices, updated interior and trim options.

With its focus on safety, the new V-Class features optional Active Brake Assist that can recognise the risk of collision with a vehicle ahead, giving an initial visual and acoustic signal. In addition, the Active Brake Assist can break autonomously up to standstill, if the driver does not react independently and adequately. A new safety feature is the optional Highbeam Assist Plus which, in the event of vehicles in front or oncoming traffic, partially deactivates the LEDs of the main beam. This creates a U-shaped cut-out in the cone of light, to avoid dazzling other road users. The standard ATTENTION ASSIST can also detect when drivers start to become drowsy, prompting them to take a break when needed.

Jaguar Land Rover hosted its regional debut of its new Range Rover, which is powered by the brand’s new six-cylinder Ingenium petrol engine, and combines dynamic on-road handling, luxurious refinement, and the trademark Land Rover all-terrain capability.

Independent Chinese brand, Hongqi unveiled its flagship crossover SUV, the HS7, equipped with advanced assisted driving which offers a luxurious driving experience. UAE-based STREIT Group, one of the world’s largest armoured vehicle manufacturers revealed the Streit Shaman 8×8; the amphibious automobile delivers a horsepower of 146 and 350Nm torque, ideal for tackling all terrains, even water.

General Motors brought forth an array of models from Chevrolet, GMC and Cadillac, showcasing six new reveals with 36 models in total across all three brands; Chevrolet made regional debuts of the 2020 Corvette Stingray, the fastest and most powerful in Stingray history, the all-new 2020 Onix saloon, and the 2020 Chevrolet Captiva crossover; Cadillac revealed its all-new CT5 sports saloon; and GMC showed off its all-new GMC Sierra line-up.