Shenzhen: 4,500 electric-powered taxis on the road

Shenzhen – Shenzhen will put another 4,000 electric-powered taxis on the road before the end of the year, bringing the total number of e-cabs to 4,500, the city’s transport commission said.  Shenzhen is one of the first cities in the world to introduce all-electric taxis and now has the largest fleet in the world.

The new taxis will have new-generation cameras, which will help solve disputes between drivers and passengers. The new cabs will also allow passengers to pay by bankcard or the city’s prepaid transport cards, known as Shenzhentong.

The city government is encouraging taxi operators to replace fuel-powered taxis with electric cabs by offering 135,800 yuan (US$21,905) in subsidy for each cab and increasing license plate allocation by 10 to 15 percent for companies that replace fuel-powered cabs. The license plate allocation rule means if a cab operator replaces 100 fuel-powered cabs, they will be allowed at least 110 electric taxis.

The deadline for the application is the end of May, according to Yu Li, an official with the passenger vehicle administration of Shenzhen Municipal Transport Commission.

Taxi companies aren’t won over yet. They are unhappy that electric cabs can operate fewer hours each day than their gas counterparts, and they are worried about a shortage of charging stations.

“We are not considering going to electric taxis because the income of electric taxis is generally half of that of fuel-powered ones, because drivers need time to charge their cabs,” said Zheng Yongzhi, chairman of Yunfa Taxi Service Co.

The number of charging stations Shenzhen provides is also a sticking point.

“We spend one to two hours charging our cab a day and our business hours are cut short because of this and our income will be reduced,” said a cab driver, surnamed Zhan. There are limited charging stations, so drivers need to wait to charge cabs in some districts.

However, some passengers say they prefer the electric taxis, which don’t have the fuel surcharge of 1 yuan. “If I am not in a hurry, I like to wait for an electric cab because I can avoid the fuel surcharge fee,” said a resident, identified as Wang.

According to Yu, the city will build another 1,204 charging stands in Nanshan, Futian, Luohu, Bao’an and Longgang districts and Longhua New Area by the end of October.

They will be built at car maintenance shops or dining areas for drivers so that drivers can save time, and there will be one for every three electric vehicles when all the charging stands are in place. One electric vehicle fully charges in 90 minutes at a charging stand. Source: SZ Daily