First buses, now Shenzhen has turned its taxis electric in green push

Roads in a Chinese city have gotten much quieter in recent years. Shenzhen, widely called the Silicon Valley of hardware, has been pouring resources to phase out rattling diesel vehicles chugging through the city of 12 million people. All public buses in the city went electric by the end of 2017. Taxis soon followed suit. […]

Roads in a Chinese city have gotten much quieter in recent years. Shenzhen, widely called the Silicon Valley of hardware, has been pouring resources to phase out rattling diesel vehicles chugging through the city of 12 million people.

All public buses in the city went electric by the end of 2017. Taxis soon followed suit. The Transport Commission of Shenzhen announced on its official site this week that 99 percent of the city’s more than 21,000 cabs are now powered by batteries.

However, 1,350 vehicles from the fleet are still waiting to be deployed because of a shortage of charging stations, a sign the city’s infrastructure is not up to speed with its electric car movement. A survey done by newspaper Southern Metropolis Daily last year showed that 80 percent of Shenzhen’s cab drivers were unsatisfied with the supply and allocation of charging stations in the city.

Shenzhen, where Warren Buffet-backed battery and car manufacturer BYD stations its headquarters, is spearheading China’s electric dream. Its electrifying evolution dates back to 2010 when the city became part of China’s grand plan to pilot hybrid and all-electric vehicles with deep subsidies for both manufacturers and consumers. Underneath the ostensible goal of improving air quality is China’s ambition to be a world leader in battery technologies, which could subsequently drive employment and export sales.

Shenzhen’s traffic authority claims that electric cabs are 70 percent more energy efficient compared to those powered by fossil fuel. The entire fleet of electric cabs is estimated to cut carbon emissions by 856 thousand metric tons a year for Shenzhen. That’s equivalent to greenhouse gas emissions neutralized by 1,007,445 acres of US forests in one year, according to a greenhouse gas calculator provided by the US Environmental Protection Agency.

It’s worth noting that the environmental perks of EVs are dependent on how a city is generating electricity. The dirtier the energy source, like coal and oil, the dirtier its electric cars are.

A major beneficiary in Shenzhen’s green push is BYD, which manufacturers a big portion of the city’s non-petrol buses and taxis. Recently, the carmaker has made forays into overseas markets to electrify their public transportation system as China weighs subsidy cuts on electric cars. The Shenzhen automaker is trecking across the globe and shipping fleets to the UK, Chile and Egypt. In Asia, it’s sold electric vehicles to neighboring Macau, Singapore and Japan.

China’s BYD further drives into Chile with 100 electric buses

Over the past few years, Chinese automaker giant BYD has been on a partnership spree with cities across China to electrify their public transportation systems, and now it’s extending its footprint across the globe. On Thursday, BYD announced that it has shipped 100 electric buses to Santiago, the capital city of Chile. The step marks […]

Over the past few years, Chinese automaker giant BYD has been on a partnership spree with cities across China to electrify their public transportation systems, and now it’s extending its footprint across the globe. On Thursday, BYD announced that it has shipped 100 electric buses to Santiago, the capital city of Chile.

The step marks the Chinese firm’s further inroads into the Latin American country where a green car revolution is underway to battle smog. BYD’s first batch of vehicles arrived in Santiago last November and the Warren Buffett-backed carmaker remains as the only electric public bus provider in the country.

Chile is on the map of China’s grand Belt and Road Initiative aiming to turbocharge the world’s less developed regions with infrastructure development and investments. “With the help of ‘One Belt One Road,’ BYD has successfully entered Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Brazil, Uraguay and other Latin American countries. As the region accelerates its electric revolution, BYD may be able to win more opportunities,” said BYD in a statement.

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President of Chile Mr. Sebastián Piñera rides the BYD electric bus. / Credit: BYD

The 100 buses embarked on a 45-day sea voyage from BYD’s factory in eastern China to land on the roads of Santiago. They sport the Chilean national colors of red and white on the exterior and provide USB charging ports inside to serve a generation who live on their electronic devices.

The fleet arrived through a partnership between BYD and Enel, a European utility juggernaut that claims to make up 40 percent of Chile’s energy sales in 2017. Enel has purchased the fleet from BYD and leased them to local transportation operator Metbus while the Chilean government set the rules and standards for the buses, a BYD spokesperson told TechCrunch.

Local passengers graded BYD’s electric vehicles at 6.3 out of 7, well above the 4.6 average of the Santiago public transportation system, according to a survey jointly produced by Chile’s Ministry of Energy as well as Ministry of Transport and Telecommunications. Respondents cited qualities such as low noise level, air conditioning and USB charging that the buses deliver.

Santiago currently has 7,000 public buses running on the road, among which 400 get replaced every year. A lot of the new ones will be diesel-free as the Chilean government said it aims to increase the total number of electric vehicles by tenfold in 2022.