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SYDNEY will have a fleet of 115 Chinese-made electric taxis within the coming months as part of a plan to have up to 2000 of the clean-exhaust taxis on Australian roads by the end of next year.

The importer says that the passenger cabin design of the taxi is likely to give them a head start in the market because they can be used in accordance with social distancing rules during the pandemic.

The taxis from BYD, the world’s biggest EV company, are part of a larger importation of partially manufactured electric buses in NSW from the same manufacturer in partnership with Australian company Nexport.

Nexport managing director and advisor to BYD Asia Pacific, Luke Todd, told GoAutoNews Premium the EV taxis would be launched under subsidiary brand ETaxiCO, that supplies vehicles but does not operate the mobility business.

ETaxiCO will be a fleet company providing electric taxis to existing network operators and will have a corporate platform enabling businesses to use the electric taxis.

Nexport ‘s partnership with BYD also distributes its electric buses which are now in use at the Sydney and Brisbane airports. It will start importing electric trucks in 2021.

Mr Todd said the BYD e6 taxis would be “zero contact” cars in line with restrictions to transport businesses because of the pandemic. The taxis have separate sections within the cabin, dividing the driver from the front passenger and the two rear-seat passengers to minimise transmission of any virus.

Mr Todd said this was in response to the plunge in taxi and Uber use since the COVID-19 virus impacted on the community.

The plans for the taxis have started with 115 EVs made by BYD for shires in NSW. He said Nexport has a goal of 2000 taxis on the road by 2021.

He said the use of EV taxis has been supported by NSW Northern Beaches mayor Michael Regan, state MP James Griffin and federal member for Warringah, Zali Steggall.

The initial fleet will be based in the Northern Beaches council area as part of a six-month trial. Mr Todd said this is expected to lead to further partnerships with other councils.

He said the EV taxis allowed many councils to reduce carbon emissions and meet programs such as the City of Sydney’s Sustainable Sydney 2030 and the NSW Net Zero plan that encourages fleets to move to EVs.

Mr Todd said the BYD taxis could lead to greater demand for EV taxis and more charging locations.

He said Nexport was working with charging infrastructure companies to increase the coverage of stations for public charging of EVs.

“I think that the uptake of EV taxis will be a contributor to national networks,” he said.

“We also have plans to introduce EV trucks,” he said.

“These were to come to market now but have been delayed by the pandemic. We see these being on the market within the next six months.”

He said the EV taxis are right-hand drive and comply with Australian Design Rules for use on Australian roads. They are the same type used by the world’s biggest EV taxi fleet of 20,000 cars in China’s city of Shenzhen, also the headquarters of BYD.

“I have worked in Shenzhen and have seen the benefits of a 99 per cent EV taxi fleet in that city,” he said.

“I was impressed with the effects of living in a city that had minimal air pollution and very quiet streets, despite moving a lot of people.”

Mr Todd established a mobility company in 2018 that is involved in electric vehicles such as cars, buses, taxis and trucks. It is now the distributor and partner with BYD in Australia.

“We are a fleet company but we don’t operate the vehicles,” he said.

“We plan to work with companies that are transitioning to EVs, including EV taxis.

“For those companies, we also make reports on their emissions and show how they are reducing their carbon footprint.

“This diagnosis can be used to also minimise any carbon taxes, for example. Companies can have significant benefits in reducing their CO2 levels and measuring the emissions in places that have CO2 as a tradable commodity.”

Mr Todd said the primary business was to help create a vehicle fleet for cities that are quieter, have less emissions and are generally better for the citizens that current fleets of diesel and petrol vehicles.

By Neil Dowling

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