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Mai Linh Taxi to Purchase up to 20,000 Electric Cars

Vietnamese cities are about to get a little more eco-friendly, as Mai Linh Taxi and French car producer Renault have announced a five-year deal to import thousands of electric vehicles into the country.

Beginning early next year, Vietnam's second-largest taxi company will purchase between 10,000 and 20,000 electric cars from Renault, reports Thanh Nien.

In an effort to reduce emissions, Mai Linh will replace its current 14,000-strong fleet with electric vehicles beginning in early 2016. The process will take several years – the deal isn't meant to finish until 2021 – however this is a step in the right direction for Vietnam's increasingly polluted cities.

The US$544 million project will begin on a trial basis in the first quarter of next year with 30 vehicles in Hanoi. From there, Renault will send additional cars to both Da Nang and Saigon. According to Mai Linh Chairman Ho Huy, the move will not only reduce the company's carbon footprint but also lower taxi rates from VND12,000 per kilometer to approximately VND8,000 per kilometer.

Renault plans to send two different models of its electric vehicles: the four-door Renault Fluence ZE and the five-door Renault ZOE, according to Bao Moi. Each vehicle features a 22-kilowatt battery and can run up to 240 kilometers on a single charge.

Currently, Renault is in the midst of drafting a proposal to the Vietnamese government to request a reduced tax rate on the eco-friendly vehicles. Xavier Coiffard, general director of Auto Motors Vietnam, Renault's exclusive importer in the country, told Bao Moi that his company has asked for the lowest tarriff available. As Vietnam attempts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the current 70% tax remains “too high” for an environmentally friendly vehicle, Coiffard argues, pointing to similar tax reductions in Singapore and Hong Kong in an effort to persuade Vietnamese officials.

At present, Renault's electric vehicles run between US$15,000 and US$25,000 apiece.

Meanwhile, Mai Linh is enthusiastic about the deal. “This is one of the most ambitious projects of our group since its establishment in 1993. Mai Linh hopes to be the trailblazer in Vietnam for using electric cars as taxis, which will be a trend in the future,” Mai Linh chairman Huy told Bao Moi.

[Photo via Renault UK]

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