Nissan
, BYD and Toyota are among companies that may soon be supplying plug-in vehicles to Hong Kong's taxi fleet, the publication Energy and Capital reports.

With cabs accounting for more than 18,000 of Hong Kong's approximately 550,000 vehicles, adding plug-in vehicles to the city's fleet could help Hong Kong cut its pollution substantially. As of last April, just 310 of Hong Kong's cabs were plug-ins. Meanwhile, about 17 percent of the city's pollution stems from vehicle emissions, which is why the government is beginning to enact subsidies geared towards encouraging plug-in vehicle use.

Electric taxis are becoming a thing all around the world. Last October, New York City said it was launching a pilot program in which a half-dozen Nissan Leafs were added to the city's taxi fleet. And, last month, BYD said it would supply the Colombia capital city of Bogota with 49 e6 all-electric vehicles, which will be South America's first all-electric taxi fleet when it goes live during the first quarter of the year. BYD will also be adding about 50 EVs to London's taxi fleet this year. Have you taken a ride in one in your travels?


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  • 16 Comments
      DaveMart
      • 3 Months Ago
      I should also have pointed out that in very cold weather most battery chemistries hold a lot less charge, so you are not only running them down to heat the vehicle, but you have not got as much charge to start with. Fuel cells vehicles not only have heat available for 'free' as waste from producing the electricity, but now run absolutely fine in cold weather, even at altitude: http://fuelcellsworks.com/news/2012/10/16/fuel-cell-postbus-completes-successful-test-drive-in-mountain-regions-of-switzerland/ 'Until now PostBus had no direct experience of how the fuel cell drive system would be influenced by the lower oxygen density at high altitudes. PostBus has now tested a fuel cell PostBus in Davos and can confirm that the drive system works perfectly in higher regions as well. This confirms that it will be possible to use the vehicles throughout Switzerland, even in mountainous regions.' Its cold in them thar mountains!
      Spec
      • 3 Months Ago
      Airport runs make sense. That provides a centralized charging spot . . . they could even have them charge as they wait in the taxi line. And as you point out, they can pass on customers outside of their travel range.
      Spec
      • 3 Months Ago
      How do these electric Taxi services work? It would seem kludgy to me. I'd think they'd end up having to dash to fast-chargers every other hour. I guess that could work if you have several fast-chargers scattered around the service area.
        DaveMart
        • 3 Months Ago
        @Spec
        They tend to be allocated runs to specific areas, like airports outside Amsterdam. 90% or so of runs from there will be to the centre of the town, and the electric cars can manage that. Presumably if the customer wants to go further they have to refuse them, and one of the petrol cars take them. Taxi drivers hate that, and that is one of the reasons that I posted above that fuel cells seem the better bet in this application to me.
        solas
        • 3 Months Ago
        @Spec
        Taxis: "The average number of miles driven per 12 hour shift is 180." (NY/pbs.org) At absolute worst, 2 chargers per day, and, in China ...the traffic is so horrific, perhaps no charging needed per day at all, other than over-night. You spend most of your waking hours sitting in traffic, which is virtual "free" time for a BEV.
      DaveMart
      • 3 Months Ago
      If you want to talk about 'wrong on all counts' then look no further than your claim that: 'You spend most of your waking hours sitting in traffic, which is virtual "free" time for a BEV.' Really? Since you want to confine the discussion to Hong Kong, you think that passengers will sit in traffic jams in summer in Hong Kong without the air conditioning on? Tip: the draw in NOT inconsequential.
      Nick
      • 3 Months Ago
      Hong Kong taxis are driven harshly for very long hours by multiple drivers. Plug in Hybrids would make more sense than full EVs.
      solas
      • 3 Months Ago
      @DaveMart Wrong on all counts w.r.t my comment, but thanks for trying. This article is about Hong Kong: there is no cold weather issue (that batteries care about, anyway). My reference was from NY, but that was to get some realistic measure of taxis, and how many miles they drive in a day. Of course I can calculate worst case charge count for an average miles driven. We can also calculate it for a crazy unrealistic case (for taxis). I am not doing the latter, but you are free to. Anyone with an "average" BEV taxi won't be driving the unrealistic case, obviously: they will limit themselves to routes that work. Finally, while of course battery drain of course goes down (um, duh), it is inconsequential when the car is not in motion, which the exception of one BEV only: heating in the current Leaf only, which is lousy, but will be replaced by a heat pump. In any case, not a deal killer in Hong Kong. Only the 24 kWH pack is in question (even 2 charges a day is worth worrying about)
      DaveMart
      • 3 Months Ago
      I'm going to stick my neck out on this, and venture a prediction. I think fuel cell vehicles will win in this market. The reason is the same as for their taking over the market in fork lift trucks: Less downtime and stock expense if you swap batteries instead: 'As an example battery exchange can take anywhere from 6–7 minutes for the fastest examples and even exceed fifteen minutes in extreme cases. Fuel cell MHE can be refuelled in shorter times, between 90 seconds and three minutes. If we compare the shortest battery change with the longest time for a hydrogen fill, there is a direct saving of three minutes. So if an operation has 50 forklifts, operating three shifts in a 24/7 manner and refuelling once per shift, the time savings are staggering. Even allowing the facility to close for a week over Christmas, time savings equate to over 111 days, or 30% of a man-year. Sysco Foods’ 585,000-square-foot foodservice distribution facility in Houston uses fuel cells for its entire MHE fleet of 98 pallet trucks and forklifts; it estimates the fuel cells eliminate about 4,800 hours per year (200 man-days) in battery exchange time alone. Walmart’s facility in Balzac, Canada employs 95 fuel cells in its MHE fleet, so will benefit from similar savings; the company estimates its fuel cell fleet there will save $1.1 million over seven years and avoid 530 tonnes of CO2 emissions per year.' http://www.fuelcelltoday.com/analysis/analyst-views/2013/13-01-02-selling-fuel-cells-globally-mhe Of course those numbers are going to vary for taxis as they are specific to fork-lifts, but the principles are the same. In my view the same is likely true for buses. What may falsify this prediction? Inductive charging at taxi stands and bus stops might make the difference. In my view though both taxis and buses are likely to be early targets for fuel cells, and they have considerable inherent advantages in those markets, with their operating from bases much reducing difficulties in rolling out hydrogen infrastructure.
        Joeviocoe
        • 3 Months Ago
        @DaveMart
        I'm gonna stick my neck out too Dave...and agree with you. But only in the far off future... for some companies in large cities. And only if battery tech does NOT get a revolutionary new chemistry in the mean time. The taxicab company will have to likely own and operate its own H2 fueling infrastructure. A very robust battery chemistry (one that can handle many many more cycles) can be fast charged during lunch breaks, combined with inductive charging too. This will certainly falsify your claim. But this is not certain... and current FCV and H2 tech could win in this niche if batteries don't advance much. I look forward to the future. :)
          DaveMart
          • 3 Months Ago
          @Joeviocoe
          During the vehicle life both the toughest battery chemistry, lithium titanate, and the latest fuel cells will need changing once, so they are pretty much even in that respect. For fork lift operation it is clear that fuel cells are sweeping the board due to the low downtime. For new installations I suspect that inductive charging will give them a fight in two or three years time, but I can't see them either taking time out for the fork lifts to recharge if it is done at a charging station or ripping out the floor to lay charging pads to charge them on the go in existing installations. For buses Proterra is covering all the bases, with diesel hybrids, inductively charged battery buses, and fuel cell battery combinations. Personally I think it is great that there are a number of competing technologies, all way cleaner than stinky old diesel buses. As long as those, and diesel taxis, get replaced I am happy with all the alternatives.
        Spec
        • 3 Months Ago
        @DaveMart
        I think they'll need to build some fuel cell cars first.
          DaveMart
          • 3 Months Ago
          @Spec
          @Spec. Very true. There was no fuel cell equivalent of the lead acid batteries which were used in all sorts of hobbyist contraptions, or the later zinc batteries etc. The technology is now well proven in a variety of environments, and stack life it approaching the point for buses where it can be expected to provide comparable costs to conventional buses over the vehicle lifetime. Ballard who is working on their 7th or 8th generation stack now tell us that they are at about 20,000 hours durability, with comparable costs to conventional likely at 30,000 hours in 2014. Both modern lithium batteries and fuel cells are very sophisticated pieces of kit, and not surprisingly need a comparable level of technological, materials, chemical and computational power available to provide a good alternative to combustion engines. When its time to railroad, then railroads get built, and that depends on a total technological infrastructure, not one breakthrough in isolation.
          DaveMart
          • 3 Months Ago
          @Spec
          It's a good job that Hyundai started producing them in December then, isn't it? It is so weird to hear the same arguments used for years against battery cars taken out, dusted down, and given a new lease of life by battery car advocates when the subject of fuel cells comes up. Irony might not be dead, but the appreciation of it is lacking somewhat. God bless the unconscious mind.
          Spec
          • 3 Months Ago
          @Spec
          There is a very big difference though. Hobbyists were building EVs in their garages the whole time thus showing it could easily be done. Not so much with fuel cell cars. Good luck to them though.
      DaveMart
      • 3 Months Ago
      You can't arrive at an 'absolute worst' by making calculations based on the AVERAGE number of miles driven. The notion that if you are sitting in traffic you are not using your battery up is also entirely erroneous, as there is no excess heat available as there is from an ICE, and so in either hot or cold weather the battery would be draining to keep the temperature liveable, and in the case of cooled batteries, the pack at a reasonable temperature. The problem is so pronounced that Volvo and some other Scandinavian makes are looking at running a kerosene heater in battery cars. That would not help in hot weather.
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