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ComfortDelGro may buy more fully electric vehicles if two-car trial pays off

Photo 3 - The electric Ioniq taxi - the first of its kind here - charges fully in just under 30 minutes.jpg
Comfortdelgro's taxi unit has started testing the first fully electric cabs in its fleet, the transport operator said on Thursday.

COMFORTDELGRO's taxi unit has started testing the first fully electric cabs in its fleet, the transport operator said on Thursday.

It has rolled out two fully electric Hyundai Ioniq vehicles, which it said can travel more than 200km on a full charge of about half an hour - compared with the typical charging time of several hours.

ComfortDelGro Taxi noted that the cost of a full charge is one-third that of an equivalent amount of diesel, with its chief executive Ang Wei Neng saying in a media statement that the vehicle is "practical, friendly and provides substantial savings in fuel cost".

"During this trial, we will study the infrastructure and roadworthiness of the vehicle including electricity cost, charging frequency, maintenance and mileage as well as battery durability," said Tammy Tan, group corporate communications officer for ComfortDelGro Corp, in response to queries from The Business Times. "Our cabbies will also be providing their feedback.'

Ms Tan added: "If the trial proves successful, we will certainly be looking to buy more (electric vehicles)." The company did not answer a question on how long the trial will go on for.

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ComfortDelGro, which has a fleet of around 13,000 taxis and a market share of some 60 per cent, now offers only diesel cars and petrol-hybrid electric vehicles - the Toyota Prius and the hybrid Hyundai Ioniq. Hybrid electric vehicles run on conventional fuel on top of the electric charge.

Fully electric vehicles require investments in charging stations to support fleet operations. ComfortDelGro said in its announcement that it will be tapping a direct-current fast charging station at Komoco Motors in Alexandra, which has been approved by the Energy Market Authority and will be available at all hours.

Fully electric taxis have been available for more than a year from HDT Singapore Taxi. But the smaller firm was granted only a temporary taxi service licence in 2016, with the rights to operate just 100 cabs, which were tax-exempt and classified as research vehicles.

Mr Ang, who is also MP for Jurong GRC and a member of Government Parliamentary Committees for Education and Transport, said: "We have been looking for a reliable, safe and faster charging electric vehicle for quite a while now. We wanted one that would offer our cabbies the shortest or fastest charging time because time is of essence to them."

ComfortDelGro started to grow its taxi fleet again in May with its first new fleet order in nearly 18 months. It picked up 200 new hybrid Hyundai Ioniq cabs. The move came on the back of some drivers returning to the taxi fold, following the pull-out of ride-hailing giant Uber from Singapore.

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