Is Vietnam taking another step away from its famously polluted streets?

Hanoi has become the first city in Vietnam to launch a fleet of electric-powered taxis, aiming to limit air pollution in this metropolis of 8 million people, with over 7.8 million vehicles, including more than 1 million cars and more than 6.6 million motorcycles.

The capital city of Vietnam was crowned the 2nd most polluted city in South East Asia in 2019, with pollution often reaching the red alarm level, which is described as “dangerous to human health”. Studies by the World Health Organization (WHO) have found that more than 60,000 deaths from heart disease, stroke, lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and pneumonia in Vietnam were linked to air pollution.

Last month, a fleet of 600 bright cyan cars produced by local firm VinFast (part of the Vingroup, the largest conglomerate of Vietnam) were introduced to Hanoi’s bustling streets. The vivid colour was chosen as it is a combination of green, representing the environment and clean energy, and blue, to symbolise intelligence and technology.

“I was a driver for Grab for the last 9 years, but I prefer my new job. Look how beautiful the VinFast cars are!”

Benefits of using the e-taxis include helping the community by reducing air and noise pollution while saving energy and reducing costs for users, says Nguyen Manh Quyen, Vice Chairman of the People’s Committee of Hanoi.

The current major taxi company in Vietnam is Singapore based multinational Grab, a quick price comparison shows that a 10 km journey costs on average 109,000 VND (£3.72) with Grab and 146,000 VND (£4.95) for an e-taxi. Despite promises of lower costs for users, the e-taxis are currently marginally more expensive.

But price for the consumer isn’t all that matters, The Climate spoke to VinFast driver Vo Thanh Dat to find out how he liked his new ride: “I was a driver for Grab for the last 9 years, but I prefer my new job. Look how beautiful the VinFast cars are!”

Charging is one of the main challenges for this scheme. The 24/7 nature of taxis and the current lack of charging points, means this initiative must be accompanied by an expansion in charging infrastructure around the city. VinFast have included this in their plans.

As a part of VinGroup, VinFast has access to shopping centres, apartment buildings and holiday resorts. These shopping centres dotted around the city act as a base for the e-taxis where drivers can find easily accessible charging points.

“Normally I just have to charge up once a day for an hour, and during this time I just go to a coffee shop or eat my lunch,” explained Driver Thanh Dat.

Capital cost is another challenge. The initial purchase price of an e-taxi is 1.5x higher than a conventional taxi, which explains the current higher price for customers. That said, as these cars become more common over time prices are likely to fall.

Looking as part of the bigger picture, Vietnam aims to make all taxis and buses electric by 2050. To achieve this, by 2025 all replacement buses will be electric; 2030 for replacement taxis. It’s clear that Vietnam is making a concerted effort to reduce their air pollution and move towards electric power, and VinFast is at the forefront of this transition. As more electric vehicles hit the country’s streets, the health of the people and the planet will reap the benefits, together.

More information about VinFast leading the way in electric motorbikes can be found here!