China's capital is fighting the great problem of air pollution
According to a 2015 study, air pollution is killing about 4,000 people in China daily. The government is taking action by considering to enforce a directive that all newly added or replaced taxis registered in the cities of Beijing, Tianjin, Hebei and surrounding areas will be electric, starting this year. Even so though, it could be at least a decade before all of the older vehicles are replaced. Similar mandates have already been announced in Shenzhen and Taiyuan regarding their taxi fleets.
Beijing has one of the largest taxi fleets in the world –almost 71,000 taxis currently run in the city’s streets, out of which some 67,000 are petrol powered. Their transition to electric ones is expected to create a market worth nine billion yuan ($ 1.3 billion) and taxi drivers worry about the cost they will need to cover, as an electric vehicle costs almost double the price of a conventional one. Liu Jinliang, Chairman of Geely's ride-hailing arm Caocao, hopes the government can grant subsidies to new energy taxis, which he says will motivate more enterprises.
Although the country has become the biggest electric car market in the world—600,000 electric cars were manufactured in 2016 alone, the charging stations in Beijing are not enough to serve the city’s electric cars. The problem is obvious since 2014, when some 200 electric taxis were added to the service. The drivers complained that there were queues of up to six hours at electric charging stations. "There are 200 electric taxis on the streets of Tongzhou in Beijing, but only about 100 are on the road, while the other 100 are waiting to be charged," says a driver. If Beijing can speed up the construction of charging facilities at the same time, it will yield significant results, says Cui Dongshu, the secretary-general of the National Passenger Cars Association, in an NBD interview.