Emirati swaps SUV for Toyota Prius hybrid
Mohammed Alfalasi used to drive a sporty SUV, with a 4.8-litre engine and plenty of horsepower. Now he drives a Toyota Prius.
Alfalasi, who is Emirati, is one of the first people in the UAE to have snapped up the iconic hybrid, which made its long-awaited debut in the country a few months back - 19 years after it was originally launched.
The decision by Toyota and distributor Al Futtaim Motors to finally bring the car - which is powered by both a petrol engine and electric motor - to the UAE illustrates how the market is changing, even with petrol prices still relatively low.
Last month, Maj Gen Mohammed Saif Al Zafeen, Head of the Federal Traffic Council, said the council has recommended exempting drivers of hybrid and other environmentallyfriendly cars from registration fees.
What, though, convinced Alfalasi to get a hybrid?
“I sold one car to buy the Prius, it was my daily driver. I had a 4.8-litre sports SUV,” he said. “Owning an SUV in the UAE is a popular choice and I was not convinced with the hybrid options available, as there wasn’t anything that is worth buying until the new Prius was released.”
What did his friends and family think?
“My friends were shocked in the beginning because they didn’t expect the transition from an SUV to the Prius,” he said.
“When they saw the car some of them thought that this is also a good car for their business.”
Alfalasi added: “When I visit my kids’ school some people take notice of this car. The car also looks unique and some people take notice of that too. Also from inside someone told me it looks like a spaceship.” The Prius is one of the few hybrids that has been designed from scratch, rather being adapted from an existing model, which is why it stands out. Does Alfalasi, though, miss his SUV? “The driving experience [of the Prius] is very interesting because although it is a hybrid it still drives like a normal car, you don’t really miss the real driving experience you get from driving another car,” he said. At the Prius launch in February, Saud Abbasi, MD of Toyota at Al Futtaim, said the firm had held discussions with traffic authorities on incentives to encourage people to drive hybrids, such as Salik relief. But what does Alfalasi think will convince people to get behind the wheel? He said: “It is very important we build a bright future for them and it starts with us, small steps by many people makes a big difference. Hybrid should also come in options that satisfy the younger generations to entice them.”