Electric taxis in Hong Kong?

I’ve always wondered why there are no electric cars in Hong Kong. This city state is the ideal place for electric cars as the main issue plaguing electric cars is totally irrelevant here.
What is the main issue about electric cars from a consumers point of view? Yes, they are more expensive but there’s something else. Distance!

With a normal car you can go a few hundred kilometers before you need to pull over to buy petrol. And filling up your car doesn’t take long, 10 minutes and you’re done. Not so with electric cars, it’ll take you at least one hour to partly charge the battery. For a full recharge you need one night.

So it’s no wonder that consumers in Western countries shun away from buying an e-car. After all, despite the majority of distances travelled in a car being less than 100km, sometimes you might want to drive somewhere further, without having to wait for the battery to be recharged in between.

But that doesn’t apply in Hong Kong. Why? Cars in Hong Kong can’t cross the border to Mainland China unless they have two number plates. 95% of all cars registered in Hong Kong are constrained to the 1,100 square kilometers of Hong Kong. So unless you want to go around in circles, chances are limited that you drive more than 100km a day (unless you are a taxi or goods lorry). Hence, the “distance issue” with electric cars doesn’t apply to consumers in Hong Kong.

There are more reasons why Hong Kong is the ideal choice for e-cars. Air quality is dreadful and improving this should be a priority for Hong Kong’s government. The main culprit for Hong Kong’s air is not dirty air coming from China but local traffic. E-cars would solve this problem.

There’s more. Hong Kong’s government is beyond rich so financing recharging stations shouldn’t be a problem. And electricity is abundant and cheap, thanks to a nuclear plant in Shenzhen that send 75% of it’s power over the border.

If Hong Kong had had politicians with vision and the necessary brain power, electric cars would’ve been everywhere. Alas, Hong Kong doesn’t. Some of the buses in use here wouldn’t get a license in Europe as they don’t comply with environmental regulations.

But there is hope from China. BYD is the name – Build Your Dream. A battery maker turned car producer (in which Warren Buffet invested some money). BYD has been testing e-taxis in Shenzhen, a city bordering Hong Kong on Mainland China, for over a year. And finally they want to test the taxis in Hong Kong as well.

But, there is a catch. BYD requires assistance from the government. It wants the government to build the charging stations (or at least grant them the land at a cheaper price). Without charging stations the whole e-taxi thing doesn’t make sense.

So will Hong Kong’s politicians take the chance? Will they prove that they at least have some vision if you present them with a ready concept? Well, I doubt it….

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About Basti

I've been living and working for ten years in Greater China (Mainland China, Hong Kong). I'm working in the field of Product Design / Product Consulting and Manufacturing for accessories and wearable devices. My passions are travelling (especially China and Asia) and I used to ride a motorbike. Now, with two children, my hobbies switched to changing diapers, cleaning and feeding babies.

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