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Inside Look At Electric Taxis Hitting China In Mass This Summer | CleanTechnica

Over the past couple of years, the most exciting developments in EV production and sales have generally happened in North America and Europe, but the focus is undoubtedly turning to China. While Chinese EV start-ups may not be glamorous and the country’s incentives have not made huge inroads in spurring private consumption, private-public partnerships for EV fleet implementation are gaining traction. By this summer, China will be home to the top three largest electric taxi fleets in the world, specifically Shenzhen, Beijing, and Nanjing.

China is well known for its massive infrastructure projects that it develops in anticipation of international events, with the Beijing Olympics in 2008 and the World Expo in Shanghai in 2010 being two prominent examples. This summer, Nanjing will be hosting the Youth Olympics, and the city has been intensely remaking itself with new metro lines, new bike lanes, new electric buses, and new taxis. Since electric taxis are part of this expansion, last week I went to speak with Zhang Qi, who will be in charge of the 400 BYD e6s on Nanjing’s streets this summer.

Zhang Qi is an assistant manager at the Jiangnan Taxi Division (江南出租汽车分公司), which is a division of the Nanjing Transportation Exchange Company. In his current position, he works as a liaison between BYD, where he worked formerly, and Jiangnan Taxi. At the moment, his main focus has been overseeing a pilot program with a dozen electric taxis and making sure their company will be able to handle the upcoming expansion of more electric taxis.

Given that the focus of our conversation was electric taxis, we decided the best place to hold an interview would be in a BYD e6, with me driving. During our drive, I asked Mr. Zhang about issues that I thought would be most relevant to EV fleets in China. These included concerns that one would have about any taxi or EV, but their concerns and priorities were different than what I expected.

Driving range, which BYD rates at 300km of range, was more than the figure of 250km that the drivers gave, but the drivers whom I spoke with said this actually covered their average distances. Mr. Zhang said the greater challenge for them right now is installing enough charging stations in close range to where drivers are operating and making sure that drivers can charge quickly enough. Right now, a full charge takes about two hours. He said that construction has already started on large lots on the north, south, east and west sides of the city and will be completed by the beginning of the summer.

EV subsidies in China are smaller than years past, but taxi companies are in a good position to take advantage of EV benefits. Firstly, the majority of taxis in China run on LNG, and with natural gas spot prices recently hitting a record high, alternatives are looking even more appealing. Secondly, taxi companies have better to access to credit than individual consumers and can more effectively amortize the costs of operating a vehicle. Thirdly, the more one drives an EV, the faster one reaches the point at which savings kick in. Public transportation companies understand this quite well, since they’re running their vehicles daily.



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