All-electric fleet of taxis to hit roads in September

Newcomer HDT Singapore Taxi will start operations under an eight-year trial

Singapore's sixth taxi company is set to make an "electrifying" debut when its cars hit the road in two months' time.

Newcomer HDT Singapore Taxi will be the first taxi firm here with an all-electric fleet. Yesterday, it said it plans to start operations in the first week of September, after getting approval from the Land Transport Authority (LTA).

The firm plans to start with more than 10 vehicles, before progressively ramping up its fleet to 100 by the first quarter of next year.

An LTA spokesman said HDT Singapore Taxi has been given a licence to operate in an eight-year trial, as part of a government plan to explore the feasibility of fleet-based electric vehicle (EV) operations.

HDT Singapore Taxi managing director James Ng told The Straits Times that fares will be "competitive and tagged to the market rate", with details to be released after the Public Transport Council approves its pricing structure.

Registered as a company in April, HDT Singapore Taxi will join a market with five other taxi operators which run a total of more than 28,000 cabs.

It will be the only one to employ full-time drivers. The other oper- ators rent out vehicles to cabbies.

Mr Ng said drivers can earn a gross monthly pay of about $3,300, including Central Provident Fund contributions, if they meet "reasonable" revenue targets and deliver good customer service.

HDT Singapore Taxi will use electric vehicles from BYD (Build Your Dreams), a Shenzhen-based auto and battery maker that has United States investment guru Warren Buffett as a shareholder. It will use BYD's fully-electric e6 model, which has a range of about 350km and a battery that can be fully charged in about 90 minutes.

The firm's e-taxi operations will tie in with the Government's plans to widen the testing of EVs here.

The first phase, which involved individual corporate users, concluded three years ago and the authorities are now exploring the viability of fleet-based operations.

An islandwide EV car-sharing scheme will be rolled out from next year, growing to a fleet of 1,000 by 2020.

As it is a trial, HDT Singapore Taxi's fleet size will be capped at 100. In comparison, taxi operators are required by LTA to grow to 200 by their first year of operations, and to 800 by the fourth.

However, HDT Singapore Taxi is still expected to comply with availability and service standards, as well as regulations on fare structures.

Business development executive Haley Chan, 26, said: "I'm keen to try out the taxis, to get a feel of an electric car. But it also depends on how much they cost."

Those who wish to join HDT Singapore Taxi as cabbies can call 6258-8888 from 8.30am to 6pm on weekdays.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 26, 2016, with the headline 'All-electric fleet of taxis to hit roads in September'. Print Edition | Subscribe