Quit clowning around
Incompetence in the sector is no longer funny
traffic along the Beirut-Jounieh corridor—something like Bruce Willis’ flying taxi from “The Fifth Element.” (Dubai just announced the first urban test flight of the drone taxi that is being developed there by a European company)
But with all that is uncertain about the automotive future here, what is certain is that we cannot wait. Lebanon’s quality of life, urban productivity, and economy will only deteriorate if current traffic standards and automotive habits are allowed to prevail. That is why this issue’s automotive coverage goes deeper and broader than a marketing-happy look at new models that are on offer for local drivers. (But we have those too, see McLaren story on page 44).
We call on the Lebanese government to revise its thinking around transport, and to overhaul tax legislation that discourages people from switching to cars with better emission profiles. We call on the government to start thinking about incentives for electric mobility in whatever form,
It’s not just on the central government—municipalities can also help speed the adoption of green vehicles while creating a better touristic image for all of Lebanon. The coastal municipalities—like Sour, Saida, Beirut, Jounieh, Jbeil, Batroun, and Tripoli— can play an especially important role in promoting electric and hybrid vehicles by installing recharge stations and implementing public transport using electric buses.
Just as we do not want to hear about a new internationally financed study for a transport solution from any public sector stakeholder in Lebanon (we had all the studies we could ever want), we are tired of hearing vacuous consultant talk from the automotive sector waxing about distributors’ commitment to the environment, public transport, or people’s mobility. We call on car dealers to invest more in future-proof skills such as the ability to advise on, charge, and service electric cars, instead of just building bigger and shinier showrooms to attract customers. Car distributors and agents cannot afford to treat EVs and hybrids as exotic jokes that they can dismiss as readily as dumb journalistic inquiries.
Distributors who offer good service for EVs and who prepare for autonomous driving—which in the opinion of the international car executive Carlos Ghosn will be part of the solution for traffic decongestion in Lebanon, together with infrastructure investments and public private partnerships (see interview on page 48 for Ghosn’s remarks and PPP coverage on page 24)—will play a major role in securing a better life in Lebanon’s urban and non-urban areas, and in helping the Lebanese economy stay afloat in its race against global competition.
Besides automotive companies, private sector players such as banks, insurers, large retailers, and malls can contribute to boosting the image and practicality of electric or hybrid vehicles that could be brought to the Lebanese market. We want to see things such as green auto loans, insurance discounts for EVs, recharge stations at hypermarkets, and free EV parking at malls.
The hurricane in the global auto industry is coming, and it will eventually make landfall in Lebanon just like everywhere else. It is time to reinvent the Lebanese wheels, for the sake of our competitiveness and a better quality of life for today’s young generation.
We call on the Lebanese government to revise its thinking around transport