Volkswagen electric taxi

Volkswagen, Great Dragon Tout Zero Emission Vehicles

Electric vehicles created quite the buzz at the Eco Expo Asia held on Lantau, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, during the first week of November. The event, coordinated through the Hong Kong Trade Development Council and Messe Frankfurt, focused on "Business Solutions for Climate Change."

Volkswagen showcased its Hong Kong Taxi and the Touareg Hybrid, while Great Dragon, a home-grown company, demonstrated the features of its 39-foot-long electric bus.

Hong Kong's population stands at about 7 million people today and is expected to grow to 8.89 million by 2039, according to the government's Census and Statistics Department. People often travel by public transportation such as MTR (the rapid transit railway system) and on foot from their jobs to shopping and their high-rise apartment homes. According to one local resident, apartments as large as 1,000 square feet are considered "luxury" dwellings, and the cost of a parking space for a car can be quite expensive. But while personal cars may be hard to come by, the streets often are filled with taxis and single- and double-decker buses.

The Environmental Protection Department monitors Hong Kong's Air Pollution Index daily and has taken measures to lower smog, including incentivizing the replacement of old diesel commercial vehicles, and placing Euro V diesel in all of its petrol stations. The next logical step is to find transportation solutions that emit even lower or zero emissions. And that is what those vehicles on the show floor promised attendees.

Till Scheer, managing director of Volkswagen Hong Kong Ltd., noted that "Customers in Hong Kong are very alert to environmental issues. We will continue to bring our newest and most advanced eco-friendly models to both Hong Kong and Macau."

Volkswagen electric taxi

Press photographers snap pictures of the new Hong Kong taxi from Volkswagen.

Regarding the Hong Kong Taxi, Scheer said: "With a true zero-emission drive system and the image that anyone here will recognize, it not only advances environmental automotive engineering, but also packs a raft of inspirational design innovations." The car is painted red and silver and includes with the city skyline like Hong Kong taxis.

The taxi uses a lithium ion battery that supplies 45 Kilowatt-hours of power. According to Volkswagen, a full recharge will allow the automobile to travel up to 300 kilometers (about 186 miles). The company also says the battery can be recharged up to 80 percent of its total capacity in just over one hour.

The Touareg Hybrid, according to Volkswagen, emits 193 grams per kilometer of carbon dioxide, an improvement over petrol-engine SUVs. However, this achievement runs higher than the the average for cars in the United Kingdom ─ 167 g/km. Volkswagen's L1 Concept car reportedly emits 36 g/km and can travel 100 kilometers on 1 liter of fuel. Part of the secret of these low numbers is its carbon-fiber reinforced plastic body.

Raymond Lo

Raymond Lo poses with the Great Dragon bus outside the Eco Expo Asia before giving members of the media a ride.

The Great Dragon bus on the exhibit floor had already been running in Linyi, Shandong China's roadways for about six months.(Linyi, which has about 10 million people, is located about midway between Beijing and Shanghai.) In testing, the vehicle has carried 50 people in air conditioned comfort and traveled 200 kilometers on one charge. Lo said it takes four hours to charge up the 300 lithium ion phosphate batteries that power the motor.

The executive director of Great Dragon International Corporation Ltd. also explained that China and Linyi were subsidizing electric cars and buses and that his company expects to have 300 more buses on the road by the end of 2010. He noted, too, that the city opened one of the largest charging stations in June: 21 units for buses and 15 for cars.

Lo suggested that electric vehicles such as his bus should be used where they would do the most good against pollution, in places such as Causeway Bay. Looking across the South China Sea, visitors to Eco Expo Asia can see little detail of the mountains across from Lantau Island, which also might benefit from greener transportation.

South China Sea

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