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Hybrid taxis to debut in Kunming in September

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Kunming has issued 50 new taxi licenses specifically for hybrid cars – not enough to address the current citywide taxi shortage, but perhaps a sign that the government is looking to shift to less-polluting forms of public transit in the future.

The new licenses will increase the number of taxis on city roads by only less than one percent, from 6,901 to 6,951 and it is not known what make or model the hybrid taxis will be, but media reports claim they will consume 20 percent less energy than conventional taxis.

The new licenses for the new hybrid taxis were sold as a set last Thursday in a five-way auction between Kunming's major taxi operators. After starting at 20,000 yuan each they were eventually snapped up for 165,000 yuan each—or a total of 8,250,000 yuan (about US$1.2 million)—by Kunming Zhongbei Transportation and Tourism Company.

To offset high purchase and maintenance costs each vehicle will receive a one-time 36,000 yuan subsidy from the municipal government and an additional 6,000 yuan per year subsidy for the coming four years.

If the hybrid taxis turn out to be efficient and dependable more could be added in 2012. There have also been 60 hybrid public buses in trial operation in Kunming since July 1.

Beijing hybrid taxi image: China Car Times

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