The green theme might overshadow the world's fastest car and the world's most expensive car at this year's Dubai International Motor Show. Most exhibitors at the event will be vying for the attention of environmentally conscious consumers with a range of alternative-fuelled vehicles. Even Enoc, Dubai's petrol company, will be pushing eco-friendly lubricants from its stand.
Even if the Middle East, and the UAE in particular, have not traditionally been interested in environmental issues, the table is turning, according to James Raffoul, industry group manager for Exhibitions and Events Management for the Dubai World Trade Centre, organisers of the exhibition. "While the region joined the debate a little late, it is now leading it and we are providing a top platform with the most influential motor show in the region and we are expecting more than 100,000 visitors," says Raffoul.
The 10th Dubai International Motor Show starts on Wednesday and will run until December 20 at the Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre. It will feature more than 200 manufacturers from 30 countries. Manufacturers are not only focusing on cars' emissions but the amount of energy and carbon used in its manufacturing. This will be the main theme on most of the stands. "It is the future of motoring," says Raffoul. "With respect to technical advances with engines and innovation, it will be from the start to the finish in the process of putting a car together [that will also be important]. It is not just about an eco-friendly engine. It is about how the car is manufactured, even from specific parts such as the lights, the upholstery, the tyres and everything that is put together in a car, it has a green focus. It is the key topic and top of the agenda."
The show will feature a sustainability mobility forum seeking to raise the profile of sustainable motoring to the region. The organiser had also planned a "green zone" where the leading car manufacturers would have a platform to show the environmentally friendly aspects of its cars, but that idea fell through. "They all outright refused because it was important to their stand and they wanted to keep it on their own stand because they are so passionate about it," says Raffoul.
Among the presenters with environmentally friendly vehicles will be Mercedes, BMW and Lexus. Mercedes will have its hybrid S400 which is already on sale in the UAE. BMW will debut its ActiveHybrid X6 and ActiveHybrid 7 and Lexus will have its hybrid LS 600h L. Hybrid cars are here to stay, according to Dean Leathers, senior vice president for automotive education for Lexus. "Hydrogen fuel cell technology is still under development and there is a lack of infrastructure [for refuelling hydrogen fuel cell cars] so the hybrid is future-proof."
At the 2007 Dubai show, 25 per cent of visitors to the World Trade Centre Exhibition Halls were trade but the remaining were the general public that consisted of car enthusiasts, car clubs, government officials and regional royalty. There will, of course, be the high-end, expensive vehicles, but higher-volume car makers such as Toyota, Peugeot, and Nissan will also have a large presence. "We have a number of launches and regional launches. There will be in total 14 world launches, 40 regional debuts and also 200 new car models," adds Raffoul.
"It's no secret the industry has taken a major hit, but for the show, it is full steam ahead. We have over 200 exhibitors taking part, making it one of the largest global automotive shows in the world this year." Despite the economic downturn, Ultimate Motors is expected to show the world's fastest production car - the Ultimate Aero TT 2010 by Shelby SuperCars (SSC). And the Stile Bertone Mantide will also be on display. The vehicle, based on a Chevrolet Corvette with custom coachwork and one of just 10 in existence, comes with a price tag of $2 million, making it the most expensive production car in the world.
Among the models making their worldwide debuts at this year's show include the Arash Super Cars AF-10, Kepler Motors, Mercedes-Benz G Class '79 Edition and Renault's GCC Fluence. Fab Design's Porsche Panamera Widebody, McLaren Desire Roadster and Mercedes SL Ultimate, the Hamman BMW X6M and X5M and the Revere 2010 Range Rover Sport HSR will be part of the tuning and modification sections. Brabus will bring two world premieres to Dubai, while BF Performance will unveil the Versace Lamborghini Murcielago GT660 by Auto Track.
The Roads and Transport Authority and Emirates Driving Institute will be promoting safe driving and practices with a range of demonstrations. firstname.lastname@example.org * Additional reporting by Georgia Lewis and Tim Brooks