Nissan to give HK fast chargers for electric taxi trial

Japanese carmaker to donate quick chargers as part of city's trial for greener transport

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 13 September, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 13 September, 2012, 3:12am

Nissan will donate quick chargers as part of the trial of electric taxis in Hong Kong but local taxi operators will have to change their operational methods in order to make the experiment work.

The Japanese carmaker, which has sought to return to Hong Kong's taxi business after being driven out by Toyota a decade ago, said taxi drivers now queue up at liquefied petroleum gas stations every day at around 4pm to refill their tanks before having to hand over the cab to the late-shift driver.

But if the government wishes to replace the city's 18,150 LPG taxis with the cleaner electric vehicles, taxi drivers would have to give up this habit and recharge their car whenever they could.

"To make that work, taxi drivers would have to scavenge for a charger if operations continue as they are, and we would have to have thousands of quick chargers in town," said Andy Palmer, the group's executive vice-president. Quick chargers ensure the taxi can be recharged to an optimal level within 30 minutes. Most existing chargers in the city are slow chargers that take eight to 10 hours for a full recharge.

Nissan chief executive Carlos Ghosn flew into Hong Kong yesterday to communicate the group's plan on electric cars to Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying.

"We proposed to offer a solution for Hong Kong through its taxi fleet, and our ambition is not limited to 50 or 100 cars in Hong Kong, but to make sure Hong Kong will drive or be driven into the zero emission sector," Ghosn said. "The Hong Kong government seems to have a lot of interest to pursue this avenue."

The Post reported on Monday that Nissan planned to introduce 50 Leaf vehicles in Hong Kong for trial as electric taxis early next year, followed by around 100 NV200s - an electric van that will be used as taxis in London and New York in 2014. Mainland carmaker BYD has also committed to deliver 45 of its e6 models for trial as taxis in Hong Kong next month, while Fortune Dragon, a local dealer of Italian carmaker Fiat's Doblo van, would introduce five of the models as taxis into Hong Kong later this year.

Meanwhile, Ghosn maintained Nissan's annual sales target of 1.35 million cars in the mainland for this fiscal year ending in March, although the group's chief operating officer Toshiyuki Shiga said last week that the dispute between China and Japan over the sovereignty of the Diaoyu Islands has hurt deliveries. Sales of Toyota and Mazda fell 15 per cent and 6 per cent year-on-year respectively last month, despite an increase of 8.99 per cent in the mainland's passenger car market.