Two to choose from for Hong Kong
The use of LPG as an automotive fuel in Hong Kong has a long lasting tradition. Being introduced in the late 1990s Autogas became the primary fuel for all new taxis in 1999. Since August 1st 2001 diesel taxis were no longer eligible to be registered new and their operation was banned altogether by January 1st 2006. Since then the Hong Kong taxi fleet runs exclusively on LPG and is comprised of a vast majority (99%) of Toyota’s venerable Comfort with a small minority of Nissan Cedrics complementing the fleet.
Even if the emissions advantage of LPG was great at their introduction, the older vehicles’ emissions advantage slowly decreases over the years as conventionally fuelled vehicles catch up through more advanced technologies becoming available to the conventional fuels. It is therefor time to move on to more modern LPG models. While everyone seems to be holding their breath for Toyota’s LPG-electric hybrid JPN Taxi Concept, market decisions need to take into account existing models. Two of which are now available to the Hong Kong taxi market.
Ford Transit Connect
Ford’s Transit Connect, a minivan oriented to the more professional customer was unveiled in October 2013. Introduced in 2014 and since marketed quite successfully it has established itself as taxi, shuttle, delivery van and tech support vehicle and is also available in an LPG version. Equipped with the virtually bullet proof 2.5 four-cylinder inline engine, which – producing 162 hp and over 220 Nm of torque is mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. Equipped with sliding doors on either side this van can easily accomodate a maximum of 7 passengers and their luggage (up to 1.6 m³ if needed) and will reliably haul the up the hills. It also features a hill start system which prevents rolling back while starting at an incline.
The LPG option was included from the very inception of the vehicle, is prepared directly by Ford in their Sevilla factory and completed through their network of Qualified Vehicle Modifiers.
Nissan NV200 LPG
The second contender has a longer history as a taxi in Tokyo and is operated alongside its rival from Ford in several cities, most notably New York.
Like its competitor it comes with dual sliding doors for easy access as well as boasting a retractable rear ramp for wheelchairs.This feature impressed the chairman of the Direction Association for the Handicapped, Lee Yuen Tai who attended the launch ceremony in Hong Kong earlier this year. The introduction is scheduled to take place after June 2015.
Like all other Hong Kong taxis, the NV200 is also available in a dedicated LPG version, which in contrast to a mere retrofit includes a larger tank of 73 litres giving the taxi a range of up to 500 km on Autogas only. A first batch of 50 is foreseen and to be delivered over the course of the later year.
Read more on the NV200 taxi…