Electric Taxi Fleet

Source: Vancouver Sun

SHENZHEN, China — In a bid to get a fully electric car on the road with appeal beyond the “green market,” China’s BYD, Build Your Dreams, has taken one big step ahead of most of its competitors.

In May, the small automotive company, which U.S. financial wizard Warren Buffett put on the map when he bought a 10 per cent stake, watched the first 30 of its e6 purely electric models roll onto the streets of Shenzhen and begin cruising the city as taxis. By the end of June, BYD expects to have 100 e6 taxis on the road and, although the company won’t confirm it yet, some sources say 560 by the end of the year. The ultimate goal is 1,500, about 10 per cent of all Shenzhen cabs.

The red and white taxis have “zero emission” printed on them and emblazoned across the back in Chinese characters is the boast: “This is not a conventional car, this is a declaration of environmental protection.”

It’s interesting to note the reactions because the taxi driver appears totally indifferent to the experiment he’s involved in.

“A car is a car,” he said. “For a taxi driver it’s to make money. If passengers like it better, then we do, too.”

Paul Lin, spokesman for BYD bridles slightly when asked about the e6 experiment.

“It’s not a test program, frankly speaking. It’s a real business. It’s a beginning,” he said.

Lin explains that in China, where there are more than a million taxis on the streets and they are all owned or controlled by some level of government, it makes a lot of sense to begin e-car sales by penetrating the taxis market. So, BYD invested in Pengcheng

Electric Taxi Company with Shenzhen Bus Group, a company that is ultimately controlled by the city government.

“It should give confidence and guide the public,” Lin said. “If the government uses purely electric vehicles, it will be a very big sign for the public. ‘Oh, the electric vehicle, it works!’ It spells it out for the public.”

What Lin doesn’t say, but clearly implies, is that it is also a way to get governments to begin investing in e-car charging stations before, likely well before, they wholeheartedly commit to policies promoting purely electric cars.


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