The decision comes following reports of pollution levels rising to catastrophic levels.
Announcements have been made in Beijing, China, claiming that 67,000 taxis will be replaced with electric cars and taxis, according to reports. The decision comes after catastrophic air pollution levels in December last year, prompting recognition of a strong need to significantly reduce pollution in the city. A 2015 study claims that air pollution is responsible for 4,400 premature deaths every day in China, which means that the removal of one of the greatest contributors to this has the potential to make a very significant impact. Prior to this, other attempts by the Chinese government to minimize the harmful smog have been largely unsuccessful. These have included banning large, polluting trucks on the road, and prohibiting vehicles that carry construction debris.
Following the new plans, the Chinese government also announced that their “new energy” ambassador will be American actor, and active conservationist, Leonardo DiCaprio. The decision has been made in a great 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 huge vehicle conversion from gas to electric is expected to cost taxi operators around $1.3 billion (9 billion yuan). This is largely due to the fact that a typical electric car is around twice the cost of most gas-powered cars. However, the situation in Beijing has become so catastrophic that this may be their only option and therefore is seen as a necessary expense. Business Insider commented saying, “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.”
Looking to similar situations of success, diverse countries such as Japan, Germany, the US, France, Norway and the Netherlands have all invested heavily in electric vehicles in the past several years. Lawmakers in Hawaii have also introduced a new bill which requires all land transportation to be powered by clean electricity, making it 100% green, by 2045. This follows the plans for Elon Musk’s company, Tesla, which is planning on building additional gigafactories so that the growing demands for EVs can be met. He says that hundreds of gigafactories, where the batteries and EV car parts are manufactured, are required to help people to transition over from gas-powered vehicles to cars, trucks, vans, and public transportation that are run solely on electricity, which often includes solar, air, wind, wave, and hydropower.
Musk has also stated that he is currently on the look out for a Chinese production partner, due to the fact that he sees Hong Kong being a possible role model for the new electric cars. With Beijing’s recent announcement to replace 67,000 gas-powered cabs with EVs, it seems as if Musk’s vision is coming true.
A time-lapse video of Beijing’s smog problem can be viewed below:
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