The recent introduction of 100 electric taxis in Singapore, forming the biggest electric-taxi fleet in Asia represents the largest investment of its kind by a Chinese electric car manufacturer BYD, a Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway backed company.
This is not the first venture invested by BYD to introduce electric taxis or sustainable urban transportation into the Asian public transportation markets. Prior to this, BYD invested in Hong Kong’s electrification project with the launch of 45 e6 electric taxis and charging stations in 2013.
The launch of Hong Kong’s first all-electric taxi fleet was collaborated with Sime Darby Motors Group (Sime Darby), Hong Kong Taxi & Public Light Bus Association Limited, the Link Management Limited, CLP Power Hong Kong Limited and the Hong Kong Electric Company Limited.
However in 2015, BYD announced its 2 year trial run as a failure in Hong Kong.
“I am the one to take charge of the electric taxi job of BYD in Hong Kong, said assistant to the general manager in the carmaker,” Ding Haimiao. “I’ve to say it is a failure,” he added.
The remarks were made by Ding during a speech in the south-east Chinese city of Shenzhen to several academic and technology business amounts from Hong Kong.
In 2013, BYD chairman Wang Chuanfu said he anticipated BYD to supply dozens of e6 electric taxis to the Hong Kong market by end of that year.
He expected the number of electric taxis will increase to 1,000 by 2014 and 3,000 by 2015. In actual BYD has 45 e6 taxis and 3 charging stations in Hong Kong – enough to cover 150 electrical taxis.
Ding insisted that BYD has demonstrated to the Hong Kong government that the city can be considerably benefited by electrical taxis by better protecting the environment, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and saving energy cost.
“Because we lost so much money from this endeavour, I am calling it a failure,” he explained. The car manufacturer has formed some investments to support this program, for instance providing free charging facilities and vehicle maintenance, he added.
He explained the BYD e6 electric taxis fits its purpose in local market, but faced with opposition from a number of established taxi companies and taxi drivers.
“The Hong Kong government already knows [all] the figures and results, like the energy cost savings. But it really depends on the government [to see] how far it will go in moving forward this e-taxi plan,” he said.
Until uncertainties are cleared up, it is common for new policies from the authorities to inspire a backlash, he explained.
In a different part of its sustainable mobility initiative, BYD is still pressing ahead with electric buses in Hong Kong that is progressing at a slow pace, Ding said.
The number of orders pales compared to other substantially heavy traffic marketplaces in which it operates, although BYD has received orders for 14 electric buses in Hong Kong for the entire year of 2015.