Shenzhen Rolls Out New BYD E-Taxis
Shenzhen has begun integrating electric vehicles into its public transport with the recent commercial introduction of local auto-maker BYD’s vehicles appearing on the city streets. An initial fleet of some 300 e-taxis are now plying the roads. Named the E6, the vehicle offers enough space for five passengers and has a range of some 160 kilometers. Plans are currently being put into place to convert all of Shenzhen’s public vehicular transport to electric – including buses and all taxis – over the next five years.
All existing gas (petrol) fuel stations in the city and its suburbs are currently being upgraded to include rapid electric charging systems. BYD, the world’s pioneer in electric car technology, is a local business that has expanded into auto manufacturing from its initial start as a battery manufacturer. Having only commenced operations in 2003, the company has proved to be remarkably innovative, with the recent 300 vehicle order proving a much needed boost to the firm’s pioneering technology. The Shenzhen city government’s drive to clean the city and move all public transport to electric is also a major boost for the company.
In 2008, Warren Buffett spent US$230 million to acquire a 10 percent stake in the company which is now, with the assistance of some electric-fuel hybrids, the sixth largest auto manufacturer in China selling close to half a million units in 2010. BYD already manufacturers in Russia, and has sold 3,000 e-taxis to Santo Domingo, the capital city of the Dominican Republic.
The company has also entered into agreements with Daimler to further continue R&D into the electric vehicle part of the business, with a factory in Los Angeles set to open in 2012 to manufacture and sell to the U.S. market the very same model currently plying the streets of Shenzhen – the E6