Motivated by air pollution that was so bad last December in Beijing, China, that flights had to be cancelled in the city’s international airport due to low visibility, the city just announced that 67,000 gas-guzzling, emission-creating taxis will be replaced with electric cars, and all new taxis will be electric as well.
You can see for yourself just how bad China’s air pollution gets here, to understand the urgent need for smog-demolishing changes. Air pollution is responsible for as many as 4,400 premature deaths each day in China, according to a 2015 study, so the move to replace one of the biggest contributors to Beijing’s horrendous air, is commendable.
Other attempts by the Chinese government to minimize smog have been largely unsuccessful, including banning large, polluting trucks from the road as well as prohibiting vehicles that carry construction debris.
The Chinese government also just announced that American actor, Leonardo DiCaprio will be the country’s “new energy” ambassador in an attempt to educate and promote alternative transportation technologies to its people.
China’s Economic Daily newspaper reported that: “by 2020, China will have built a comprehensive modern transportation system that is safe, convenient, efficient and green.”
The gas-to-electric cab conversion is expected to cost taxi operators $1.3 billion (9 billion yuan). The cost of a typical electric car is twice that of most gas-powered cars, but the situation has become so dire, the city holds that this is a necessary expense.
As Business Insider asserts, “Big name automakers like Tesla, BMW and others have invested significant resources into the research and development of EVs that can go faster and farther. And as a result, the market share of EVs continues to grow.”
Indeed, countries as diverse as Japan, Germany, the U.S., France, Norway and the Netherlands have invested heavily in electric vehicles in the past several years.
Hawaii lawmakers have also introduced a bill that would require all land-transportation to be 100% green (powered by clean electricity) by 2045.
This bodes well for Elon Musk’s company, Tesla, which plans to build additional gigafactories to meet the growing demand for EVs. He says hundreds of gigafactories (where batteries and EV car parts are manufactured) are needed to help people transition from gas-powered vehicles to cars, trucks, vans, and public transportation that run on electric, and thereby, often solar, air, wind, wave, and hydropower.
Musk has stated that he is looking for a Chinese production partner, as he sees Hong Kong as a possible role model for electric cars. It looks as if he was right on the money, with Beijing’s recent announcement to replace 67,000 gas-powered cabs with EVs.
A time-lapse video of Beijing’s smog problem is available for viewing below: