BYD set to supply London's all-electric minicabs

Updated: 2012-10-27 11:11

By Cecily Liu in London (China Daily)

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Chinese automobile manufacturer BYD has partnered with London minicab service Greentomatocars to supply the British capital's first fleet of all-electric minicabs.

Greentomatocars, which currently operates a fleet of 300 hybrid Toyota Prius vehicles, will add 50 BYD e6s in the second quarter of 2013, to achieve greater use of environmentally friendly vehicles.

Jonny Goldstone, managing director of Greentomatocars, said that the company chose BYD's e6 because its battery gives the car a range of almost 300 kilometers on a single charge in urban conditions, which is enough for the daily driving needs of between 160 and 240 km of an average Greentomatocars' driver.

The company, which was established based on the concept of using the greenest cars viable for the minicab market, has previously looked at other electric minicab options, including the G-Wiz and Renault Fluence, but decided against them as their battery range was insufficient. For example, the Renault Fluence only achieved a range of about 100 km on a test drive.

The Toyota Prius, which runs on a hybrid gasoline-battery drive, has an overall range of up to 1,000 km, but Goldstone said that the BYD e6 has the ability to carry out 95 percent of the journeys currently made by the Toyota Prius.

Goldstone added that Greentomatocars feels comfortable to introduce the e6 to the London market after observing its early success as a taxi in China.

"I went to Shenzhen to see their plant, I drove their cars, I met their workers, and I felt that this could be the big breakthrough we've all been looking for," Goldstone said.

BYD Chairman Wang Chuanfu added that his company is equally as excited about its partnership with Greentomatocars.

"The e6 has zero tailpipe emissions, so it avoids contributing to CO2 levels, which will result in cleaner air for Londoners," he said.

The e6 first went on sale in Shenzhen in October 2011. BYD also had plans to launch the e6 in the United States, but announced an 18-month delay in October 2011, citing high costs and limited charging points as the key reasons.

To make charging easier for electric vehicle drivers in London, BYD has offered to fund the provision of a chain of charging points in the city.

Goldstone said that his team is currently working with the government and corporate partners to find suitable locations for these charging points.

He added that a number of companies have already expressed an interest in locating these charging points outside their buildings.

BYD and Greentomatocars' initiative had received encouragement from London Mayor Boris Johnson, who has set a target for all of the city's minicabs and taxis to become emissions-free by 2020.

"Encouraging many more electric vehicles is a key part of this transformation, so it is great news that Greentomatocars has committed to operating 50 of these super clean machines from next year," he said.

BYD is currently taking the e6 through a range of safety tests before it can be launched in the UK.