A fleet of fully-electric taxis will roam Singapore’s roads from the first week of September this year. One hundred of these vehicles will be rolled out by the first quarter of 2017 as part of a trial.

HDT Singapore Taxi, which is making its foray into the taxi market, will run this operation as a first-time event.

In a media release on Monday (25 July), HDT said its e-taxi service will operate for eight years with vehicles provided by BYD, a Chinese-based auto and battery manufacturer.

This will give the Land Transport Authority (LTA) and the Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB) the opportunity to study whether new electric vehicle business models are viable for Singapore’s land transport network.

The eight years trial is part of the Government’s plans to test the viability of electric vehicles in Singapore. The LTA’s E-Mobility Technology Roadmap for Singapore projected that fleet vehicles such as public buses and taxis offer the biggest potential for electrification.

The fleet has clocked a mileage of about three million km – equivalent to the reduction of around 1,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions.

HDT said an electric taxi will take about 90 minutes to charge fully, and it will roll out charging points that allow the taxis to be fully fuelled in 1.5 hours. It would implement the necessary charging infrastructure.

HDT also said it is looking to introduce a new business model, where taxi drivers become full-time employees. This means they will get benefits under the Singapore Employment Act.

The move is a departure from current taxi operations, where operators lease taxis out to drivers for a fee. The company said that it would continue to operate its private-hire service started in December 2014 with an existing fleet of 30 electric vehicles.

In earlier media reports, HDT is said to have wooed existing drivers to go under its fleet by promises of unlimited recharging for their electric vehicles.

BYD’s research and development team will collaborate with institutions here in areas such as energy management and driver behaviour studies.

Although taxi fleets account for only 3 per cent of the vehicle population here, they hold the highest annual mileage per vehicle, HDT Singapore Taxi and BYD said in a joint statement yesterday.

Electric taxis have no tail-pipe emissions and are quieter than vehicles with internal combustion engines.

Last month, the Government announced that the first nationwide electric car-sharing program will kick off in housing estates such as Ang Mo Kio, Jurong East and Punggol by the middle of next year, with the first batch of 125 electric vehicles and 250 charging points to be rolled out in these towns

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