Plug it in, wait 15 minutes and this electric taxi will be ready to travel up to a distance of 200km.
Singapore yesterday unveiled its first electric taxi prototype at the biennial Tokyo Motor Show in Japan.
The sleek, lightweight vehicle took about two years to conceptualise and build. It can zip from 0 to 100kmh in 10 seconds and seat four people, including the driver, comfortably.
Among its other features, the front passenger seat can be converted to fit children aged nine months to three years old, and its unique air-conditioning system can cool each seat individually.
"This helps to save energy because when the driver is alone, it is not necessary to cool the entire vehicle," said Dr Harry Hoster, scientific director of the TUM-Create electric vehicle and transportation research programme.
The programme, which is funded by the National Research Foundation, is a joint effort between Nanyang Technological University and the Technische Universitat Munchen in Germany. The researchers said introducing electric taxis here would help reduce carbon emissions as the vehicles are on the road most of the time.
From January to August, a two-shift taxi here travelled almost an average 300km per day while ferrying customers, according to the Land Transport Authority's statistics.
The team claimed the taxi would also be cheaper to own and maintain at $426,000 over eight years, compared with $460,000 for existing diesel versions.
The figures include the cost of the vehicle, fuel, tax, maintenance, insurance and others, but the team stressed that these were preliminary estimates.
The researchers declined to comment on the prototype's cost or to estimate its commercial price, saying that this would depend on manufacturers.
The prototype is also likely to be modified to bring down costs. For example, its shell is made up of light but expensive carbon fibre. Manufacturers may use other, cheaper materials for some parts, said the team.
While the car is suitable for Singapore's climate and geographical size, putting it on roads here will require infrastructure such as charging stations for its super-fast charging system.
German technology firm Bosch Software Innovations has installed more than 57 charging stations here as part of a Government electric vehicle trial, but these cannot be used for the prototype's charging system.
"We also need to study how plugging in the vehicles will affect the national grid, among other things," said Professor Subodh Mhaisalkar, executive director of NTU's Energy Research Institute.
The Land Transport Authority and several taxi operators did not respond to queries by press time.
- What: Lightweight prototype electric taxi.
- Some features: Ability to charge within 15 minutes, child-friendly passenger seat, air-conditioner that cools individual seats.
- Who: Developed jointly by Nanyang Technological University and the Technische Universitat Munchen in Germany.
- Cost: $426,000 to own and maintain over eight years, compared to $460,000 for existing diesel versions.