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Hong Kong sees red for electric

2013-05-19 08:47

HONG KONG TAXIS GO ELECTRIC: One of the new, bright-red, electric taxis gets a close inspection on a street in Hong Kong. Image: AFP

HONG KONG, Malaysia - The first electric taxis have hit the streets of this congested city.

The 45 bright-red BYD e6 five-door cars belong to Chinese electric vehicle producer BYD which is partly backed by US investment titan Warren Buffett.

They're powered by iron-phosphate batteries that, BYD said, can last for 300km then take two hours to charge and have been rented by the Hong Kong Taxi and Public Light Bus Association for a six-month test.

ONE-THIRD THE COST

Wong Chung Keung, president and chairman of the association, said: "The idea of being environmentally friendly is a global trend and the electric car is one good example.

"An electric car saves the cost of fuel and will allow our taxi drivers to earn more," he added. A normal taxi cost 10 US cents/km to run, the battery taxi only three cents.

He called for more charging stations around the city to encourage taxi drivers to go electric; BYD was setting up 47 chargers at nine locations.

Hong Kong's financial secretary John Tsang was quoted in a BYD statement as welcoming the electric car. He was committed to "promoting environmental sustainability by laying the foundation for Hong Kong to become a zero-emissions city".

The state government announced revisions to its air-quality objectives for the first time in 25 years in January 2012 after University of Hong Kong research showed pollution-related illnesses killed more than 3000 residents a year.

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