Made in the UAE

Electrifying the last mile

With a vision to transform the UAE’s delivery vehicles, Gulf Capital SME Awards winner One Moto proves that protecting the environment makes commercial sense

Having ridden motorbikes in the UAE for over 13 years, Adam Ridgeway was struck by the poor state of many of the delivery vehicles in the region.

Old, badly serviced bikes were too common a sight on the roads for the founder of Dubai-based electric vehicle (EV) manufacturer, One Moto, who says that there was a clear gap in the market for modern, electric vehicle delivery solutions.

“I decided to look at this potential hyper-growth market of last-mile-delivery back in 2016,” says Ridgeway, “and started to build vehicles to solve a problem.”

He says that modern electric bikes are not only better for the environment than traditional petrol-fuelled vehicles, but also cheaper to run, easier to maintain, and safer to drive.

One Moto was named Sustainable Business of the Year 2020 at the Gulf Capital SME Awards, run in partnership with MEED, and the judges commended the company’s vision to become the leading provider of sustainable, commercial EVs in the region,

Dr Karim El Solh, co-founder and CEO of UAE-based alternative asset management firm Gulf Capital says, “One Moto is an incredible concept with a focus on saving costs to the environment, operators and government.”

Surging market

Spurred on by the Covid-19 pandemic and an increasingly online customer base, the food delivery market is booming around the world.

In 2020, online sales within the UAE’s food and beverage market grew 255 per cent year-on-year to reach $412million, according to a Dubai Chamber analysis.

But this poses a challenge for a country that puts a high priority on sustainability.

With UAE government targets in place to improve air quality, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and lower oil consumption, the growing fleets of petrol-fuelled delivery vehicles required to complete last-mile-delivery are not an attractive option.

According to Ridgway, motorcycles are 16 times more harmful to the environment than sport utility vehicles (SUVs) or buses, and that in their second year of usage, this increases to 50 times.

“15,000 delivery motorcycles in Dubai produce 16,560 tons of carbon dioxide each year, which would take 273,000 trees grown for 10 years to sequester,” says Ridgeway. “That is over 21,000 acres of forest that could have been saved.”

Distribution agreements signed by One Moto in the UAE, UK, India and Australia suggest that the pressure to find an environmentally sustainable solution to the last-mile-delivery dilemma is not confined to the UAE. It is a global challenge that is being met by a local the company.

Regional benefits

Ridgeway says that there were several reasons for him to set up his business in the UAE.

Firstly, there is the issue of vehicle ownership. “You have an operator that runs 1,000 vehicles,” says the entrepreneur. “You just need to switch that one person.”

In countries where vehicles are owned by individuals, they need to be converted one at a time.

Dubai is also well-structured. “You are 25 minutes away from anywhere and you can meet anyone within that time frame,” says Ridgeway.

But the One Moto founder says that the local leadership has been a big part of his decision to base the company in the region. “The UAE government is vocal about bringing change, and that is one of our most important values.”

“We want to make sure that the voice echoing sustainable change and smart cities can be backed up and we can help that,” says Ridgeway.

“Our mission is to electrify the UAEs delivery vehicles by 2024.”

On 24 November 2021, the Gulf Capital SME AWARDS 2021 in partnership with MEED will recognise and celebrate the best small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) in the UAE. The programme has attracted 1,922 total entries from 1,209 participating companies​, and has recognised 553 finalists​ and 350 winners​ across 17 categories​ with one unifying purpose – to accelerate and enable innovation in the economy’s most vital sector.