Interesting green motoring news from China — of all places. Smart Planet is reporting that Hong Kong is going to see a slew of new electric and hybrid taxis in 2013 thanks to Nissan and Toyota.
If you’ve ever seen images of a modern Chinese city, you’ll know that pollution is a problem. and Hong Kong is no different. With around 550,000 cars in the city, automobiles account for 17 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions.
Despite reservations coming from taxi drivers regarding driving range, charging infrastructure, and repairs, some Hong Kong taxi companies are starting a test program for EVs (electric vehicles) and hybrids. Nissan is shipping in 50 Leaf EVs and 100 of its all-electric vans called the NV200, which is slated to become the new taxi of choice in New York City. Additionally, 20 Toyota hybrid taxis were ordered as well.
We suspect that EVs won’t take off as ideal taxis in a city that hasn’t prepared a recharging infrastructure. Even with ideal conditions, utilizing all of the city’s 1,000 current charging points, an electric taxi like the NV200 will take several hours to fully recharge. Plug-in hybrids and standard hybrids, though, will most likely become the taxi of choice in Hong Kong. Not only will these vehicles allow for a smooth transition for taxi drivers to EVs, they’ll also begin to lessen the city’s carbon footprint — if only marginally.
When asked about EV implementation in Hong Kong in a Smart Planet interview, the director of the International Research Centre for Electric Vehicles at the University of Hong Kong, K.T. Chau, said, “Unless the government has a law or rule that every car park has charging ports so we can recharge our vehicles at night, it will be very difficult.”
With more than 18,000 taxis in Hong Kong alone, and each driving nearly 250 miles per shift (around double the range of any given current EV taxi), something will have to give, ecologically speaking — and soon.