Publication Detail

Electrification of Taxi Cabs in Major Chinese Cities with Range Extended Electric Vehicles


Research Report

Sustainable Transportation Energy Pathways (STEPS)

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Suggested Citation:
Watson, Grant and Andrew A. Frank (2012) Electrification of Taxi Cabs in Major Chinese Cities with Range Extended Electric Vehicles . Institute of Transportation Studies, University of California, Davis, Research Report UCD-ITS-RR-12-39

Presented at NextGen Auto International Summit, Shanghai, China, Dec. 11-13, 2012

China today faces major environmental and related economic threats. Petroleum prices have been on a constant rise, and air, water, and land quality have all suffered due to overuse of fossil fuels. According to the New York Times, in 2010 alone, China injected close to 2.2 billion tons of carbon into the atmosphere. The effects need not be explained. Global climate change and its effects spell environmental disaster on the horizon. Change must occur.

The best bet for a sustainable future lies in the electrification of vehicles. However, the difficulty in this lies in the public sector’s transition to this new technology. The most effective solution to move people over to using cleaner vehicles is to initiate change in public transportation systems; namely by beginning with taxi cabs and buses; in China’s major cities. If this is achieved, there will be a solid technological infrastructure upon which to expand into private markets once the public taxi vehicles have shown their success. This major leap will pave a solid path for cleaner energy options for China. This paper will focus on the taxi cab as its central theme because pure electric buses operated by city or other government agencies have both local and central government support to electrify their business, thus implying that the economic factor is not as much a deterrent as more entrepreneurial type of operation like a taxi cab. In addition, the general public can identify with the taxi since it is like a car they could personally own.

Another major reason for starting a clean automotive program with taxis is easier mass-conversion. There is no private car infrastructure on which to base a conversion plan due to individuality; however, with taxis, standardization across a fleet is much more likely and will be more collectively profitable. Finally, if there is large demand, which will come from taxi cab companies, prices will be lowered as production rises. This demand will make this new technology one that could help China achieve and expand the scope of its clean-energy goals, especially the Ten Cities, One Thousand Electric Vehicles program.

What is proposed for a clean-energy initiative is a taxi cab that can be rapidly charged within a short amount of time. Using a retractable antenna to collect current from high-use charging posts or other secure, low cost charging concepts, these plug-in hybrid automobiles would be able to fill batteries supplying adequate range to satisfy average trip distances. However, pure-electric vehicles are not sufficient to meet the requirement of constantly fluctuating trip distances traveled by taxi drivers. Due to this, these proposed taxis will be equipped with plug-in hybrid powertrains so that a conventional small internal combustion engine can take over when trip distances exceed battery limitations. The batteries, conversely, will be sufficiently sized to satisfy the vast majority of trip distances solely by their own power.