Seoul announced December 18 that it has started a test of hybrid taxis in an attempt to improve the air quality of the city.
The scheme will see five companies using taxis equipped with liquefied petroleum gas /electric hybrid engines and Start-Stop engine technology, expected to be particularly efficient because of the high amount of time taxis are kept idling whilst waiting for passengers. City officials claim that one hybrid taxi is expected to reduce more than six tons of greenhouse gas emissions annually and halve air pollutant emissions such as nitrogen oxides. The scheme kicked off with ten new vehicles in December and is expected to get fully underway in 2010.
According to official figures from the city, Seoul had 72,378 taxis in September 2009, more than London, New York or Tokyo. Several other major cities have also announced plan to increase the number of green taxis on the road – it is estimated that 15 percent of New York’s yellow cabs are hybrid vehicles. Last year, London announced a similar trial of low-emission taxis.