Electric car manufacturer BYD Co. Ltd. aims to grab a 5 percent share of Hong Kong’s 18,000-unit taxi market in two years, according to its dealer Sime Darby New Energy Motors.
“Many of the vehicles in the market are already worn out. The inducement [to replace the units with electric taxis] is, first, environmental concern, which is a mega trend worldwide. Second, the operational, maintenance and energy costs are lower,” Danny Chan, general manager of Sime Darby New Energy Motors, said at a ceremony marking the first sale of BYD’s e6 electric taxi in the territory on Friday.
An e6 unit can be fully charged for about HK$60 (US$7.74), which enables it to run about 200 kilometers, while the fuel cost for a traditional taxi that runs on liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) is HK$200. In a year’s time, a zero-emission e6 unit can save about HK$100,000 on fuel costs, according to BYD chairman Wang Chuanfu.
BYD enjoys first-mover advantage in Hong Kong. The Shenzhen-based carmaker launched six electric taxis in May this year, and there are now 17 such vehicles leased to taxi drivers in the city. The company aims to put at least 45 e6 taxis on the road this year.
An e6 taxi costs about HK$530,000, of which about HK$130,000 represents the cost of meeting certain official requirements, such as warranties, to qualify for government subsidy. Under the Pilot Green Transport Fund, the government will shoulder the price difference between an electric unit and an LPG taxi, which costs about HK$250,000.
Chan said four more charging stations will open in the next two months, adding 21 charging boxes to the existing 24 sockets in six stations.
Commenting on the common complaint about having to regularly charge electric taxis, Chan said all BYD charging stations are conveniently located in the car parks of shopping centers or establishments operated by Link REIT (00823.HK). This enables the taxi drivers to rest in the mall while having their cars charged for two hours, he said.
A new technology that shortens the charging time is already available in the mainland, and will soon be tested by Hong Kong authorities before it is officially introduced in the city. The process may take more than a year.
“In the future, taxi operators may have their own charging sockets, which cost about HK$20,000 and therefore are not so expensive,” Chan said.
In June this year, a BYD charging box melted as a result of overheating, which was blamed on poor connection to the power supply. BYD has to conduct regular checks to ensure the safety of the charging devices.
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