Here’s one way to kick-start the proliferation of electric vehicles (EVs): Make them free.
That, in effect, is what Chinese battery and electric vehicle manufacturer BYD claims to be doing in China.
This is an approach that it has used for mobile phones (yes, it makes phone batteries). In the case of the phones, they are free when there is a service contract.
In the case of vehicles—EV buses and taxis—they’ve instituted what they’re calling “Zero Down, Zero Effective Cost, Zero Emissions” program. They’re working with the China Development Bank and other financial institutions for this lease program.
Essentially, fleet operators can finance 100% of the purchase price with no money down, and, based on the use of the vehicle, pay a lease rate that is less than regular monthly operational expenses.
The BYD e6, an electric vehicle which has taxi applications
The example they provide is for a five-passenger e6 Taxi. The monthly lease payment is $550. If the vehicle is driven 28 days during the month and racks up 156 miles per day, then the operator is actually up $41, based on electricity at $0.10/kWh versus gasoline at $4.50 per gallon.
According to BYD, it has been running a fleet of 300 e6 taxis in Shenzhen for two years, during which time they’ve accumulated about 16-million miles. One of the cabs has logged some 149,000 miles.
As part of its “Zero Down, Zero Effective Cost, Zero Emissions” plan it calculates that if a e6 taxis is operated over a five-year period, the return on investment compared to a gasoline-powered vehicle is on the order of $50,000, clearly an incentive for EVs.