Recently, the Transport Commission of Chinese megacity, Shenzhen, announced that 99 percent of the city’s taxis are now electric. The news comes just a little over a year after all of Shenzhen’s buses converted to battery-powered engines. Now, the Chinese “Silicon Valley of hardware” is another step closer to phasing out diesel vehicles for its more than 12 million residents.
The Green Public Transit Dream
Shenzhen officials have been intensely pursuing green public transportation for the last several years. As of the end of 2018, Shenzhen has over 21,000 electric taxis in commission. Combined with the existing electric bus fleet, there are now over 35,000 active green vehicles driving throughout the city.
Using a greenhouse gas calculator provided by the U.S.-based Environmental Protection Agency, Shenzhen authorities calculate that its electric cabs will neutralize carbon emissions equivalent to over one million acres of forest in a single year. Overall, the city’s taxis are reportedly 70 percent more energy-efficient than diesel vehicles and will cut carbon emissions by 856 thousand metric tons per year.
This impact, of course, assumes that Shenzhen continues to generate electric energy with clean sources. Batteries need juice, but when that juice comes from dirty sources, like natural gas, coal, or oil, the benefits of electric vehicles can be nullified.
There are also indications that the megacity hasn’t kept up with its ambitious green public transit system goal. Eight out of ten Shenzhen taxi drivers reported that they are unsatisfied with the number of available charging stations located throughout the city. Additionally, there are still 1,350 electric taxis waiting to be deployed until the necessary infrastructure exists.
The Chinese Electric Vehicle Revolution
China’s electric vehicle pursuits are being spurred on by BYD, a Warren Buffet-backed car and battery manufacturer with headquarters in Shenzhen. The company has its sights set on global expansion, evidenced by recent shipments going out to East Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and South America. This growth comes at a time when China is considering cutting subsidies on electric cars in order to motivate automakers to innovate without government aid.
Many believe the country is set to aggressively adopt electric vehicle technology over the next ten years. Back in July, Chinese authorities struck a deal with Tesla for a new auto plant in Shanghai. Morningstar analysts predict that electric vehicles will comprise 25 percent of all car sales in the country by 2028.
And China’s sights aren’t just set on cleaner air. The country aims to dominate sustainable energy and electric vehicle battery production in the future. Shenzhen’s achievements with electric vehicle adoption are only the beginning of a much bigger revolution.