China to replace 70,000 gasoline cabs with electric cars


BYD e6 electric taxi in service in Shenzhen, China

BYD e6 electric taxi in service in Shenzhen, China

Enlarge Photo

China's latest effort to promote electric cars focuses on taxis in its capital city of Beijing.

The country that is now the world's largest new-car market already offers generous purchase incentives for electric cars bought by individuals.

Now the city also plans to replace its entire fleet of gasoline taxis with electric cars.

DON'T MISS: Electric-car winds in China shift again: goals to be cut after sales fall?

That fleet currently includes around 70,000 taxis, and would cost around $1.3 billion to convert to electric power, according to the local National Business Daily (via Futurism).

The electric-taxi mandate would reportedly cover all new taxis registered in not just Beijing itself, but the surrounding regions as well.

As with other Chinese electric-car projects, the Beijing taxi plan is primarily motivated by the need to address rampant air pollution.

Beijing smog

Beijing smog

Enlarge Photo

Electric taxis have already been deployed in other world cities, but the scale of Beijing's plan seems unprecedented.

From four Nissan Leafs tested for a few months in New York City to large numbers of Teslas in Norway, electric cars have proven much cheaper to run once drivers get past the higher purchase prices.

But those higher prices may require significant government investment to convince Beijing's taxi operators to cooperate.

ALSO SEE: China's BYD built more plug-in cars than any other maker last year

Liu Jinliang, chairman of Chinese automaker Geely's Caocao ride-hailing service, said the government should offer subsidies for electric taxis.

Charging infrastructure will also need to be expanded in order to accommodate large numbers of electric taxis, Cui Dongshu, secretary general of the National Passenger Cars Association, told National Business Daily.

While China has aggressively incentivized electric cars, it has been slower to adopt regulatory measures to streamline their deployment.

BYD e6 electric taxi in service in Shenzhen, China

BYD e6 electric taxi in service in Shenzhen, China

Enlarge Photo

It only recently began rolling out a national charging standard, which goes a long way toward ensuring compatibility between electric cars and public charging stations.

The government is also considering rolling back rules that require foreign automakers to partner with Chinese automakers in order to manufacture electric cars in the country.

But even the policies in place so far have gotten results.

In 2016, China's BYD produced more battery-electric cars and plug-in hybrids than any other automaker—for the second year in a row.

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