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Beijing Converting 70,000 Taxis to Electric Vehicles

Electric vehicles (EVs) are expanding in availability and efficiency all over the world. Phasing out fossil fuelled powered transport is a long complex process. In Beijing, a city with world-beating smog problems, the 70,000 strong fleet of taxis are going electric. All newly registered or replaced vehicles within Beijing have to be electric taxis. The cost of the program will be around $1.3 billion, a drop in the ocean relatively speaking. An electric taxi costs around $20,000 in China and they’re immensely popular.

Electric Vehicles Are Big in China

Other Chinese cities, Shenzhen and Taiyuan, announced similar policies. Beijing stands apart as it is a burgeoning global city taking an intiative leaving Western cities in the dust, or smog. China is the world’s biggest electric vehicle market, there are over 600,000 on the road.

Electric taxi fleets will be the law in Beijing from now on
Source: Mariordo (Mario Roberto Durán Ortiz)

Change won’t happen overnight. A lack of charging points in the city poses a functionality problem. In reality though Beijing’s ambitious plan is another chance to consolidate advances and dominance in the EV market.

EVs currently cost twice as much as gasoline vehicles. Liu Jinliang, Chairman of ride-hailing company Caocao, hopes the government will provide subsidies to mitigate the costs. The Chinese government also relaxed its regulations on car manufacturing, a move which will actually force China’s manufacturing hubs to innovate with EVs.

By 2018 electric vehicles must account for 8% of each vehicle manufacturers production. That growth must be continued. Mechanisms employed in emission reduction will be used. Tradeable credits and ratio levels add some complexity to the simple 8% headline figure.

Electric taxi fleets in Beijing
Changan BenBen EV, only $8,600 | Source: Tycho de Feitjer

In real terms the number of electric vehicles this policy would produce is staggering. 2015 saw 500,000 electric vehicles sold. China produces 28 million automobiles every year. Assume production stays at 28 million, that would be 2.3 million EVs made annually. Who is going to buy all these?

China’s Power is Growing

Trade links between the EU and China mean this policy on EV production has a global effect. German manufacturers are the biggest players in the Chinese car markets, and they will be subject to the same rules as Chinese companies. European car companies are already planning to shift to electrification. In order to keep access to the Chinese market companies need to move even faster. Alternatively companies could scale down operations. Many car companies aren’t ready to deliver EVs on that scale. If overall production dropped manufacturers would have time to shift resources into EV development. Hopefully coming up with a cheap and all-round top-notch electric vehicle for the people as an apology for lying about all those emissions.




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Mathew Sayer

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