Plans are afoot to introduce electric-powered taxis in Kuala Lumpur, with Big Blue Taxi Facilities announcing it plans to deploy 20,000 EV cabs in the city by 2020, Bernama reports. According to Big Blue Service founder Datuk Shamsubahrin Ismail, the specially-designed vehicle will be provided to taxi drivers operating under the Big Blue umbrella.

He said the vehicle is being developed by local company Fieldman EV with the technical assistance of a Chinese company, and will be designed to meet the needs of Malaysia’s road and weather conditions. It will be powered by a 80 hp motor and have a 400 km operating range on a single charge, with a top speed of 140 km/h.

He added that two experts from China have arrived to study the needs of the vehicle, based on road, environment and temperature conditions in the country. The first 1,000 examples of the EV cab will be CBU units, with he remainder being assembled locally. First deliveries are expected to occur in 2019, with all planned units to be delivered by the end of 2020.

“This electric vehicle has unique features just like the iconic black taxis in London, which can bring modernity to the taxi scene,” he said. He added that RM200 million was being invested to implement the project and government grants would be given to taxi drivers registered under Big Blue.

Shamsubaharin said that the EV taxi, besides being more environmentally friendly, will be cheaper to maintain and operate, which should increase revenue for cab drivers.

The plan to bring about electrification for cabs isn’t all that unique – London has already begun the move towards EV cabs with the introduction of the TX5 range-extender cab by the London Electric Vehicle Company.

Closer to home, Chinese electric vehicle brand BYD introduced 100 e6 electric taxis in Singapore last year, and a company in Thailand has just announced plans to deploy an EV taxi fleet of 100 BYDe6 vehicles in metropolitan Bangkok. The five-seater BYD e6 has an operating range of 400 km per charge.