PARIS (Bloomberg) -- European Union officials in Brussels can now shuttle between policy meetings without burning fuel, thanks to a new fleet of electric-powered taxis made in China.
Shenzhen-based BYD Co. was the big winner in the city's first tender for emission-free taxis in the EU's de facto capital, beating Renault and Nissan.
Of the 50-car order for battery-powered taxis, local operators bought 34 of BYD's e6 model, the Chinese manufacturer said in a statement.
"I'd rather have chosen a European brand than a Chinese one of course," Luigi Marrocco, chief executive officer of Taxis Bleus, one of the two biggest taxi companies in Brussels, said. "But when it comes to size, comfort and range, BYD was clearly above Nissan and Renault."
The deal is a blow for Carlos Ghosn, the CEO of both Renault and Nissan, who has struggled to find buyers for the group's Renault Zoe and Nissan Leaf electric vehicles.
For BYD, it's the biggest taxi order so far in Europe. The company has 20 taxis in London and a "small number" in Rotterdam, it said. BYD's e6 has a range of 300km (190 miles), double the 150km that Renault's Zoe can drive before needing to recharge.
Taxis Bleus, which operates 320 cabs in Brussels, bought 13 BYD e6 cars, one Renault Zoe and three Nissan Leafs, Marrocco said. He rejected Tesla Motors Inc.'s Model S as too expensive.
While the 48,000 euro ($61,000) price tag for the BYD car is more expensive than conventional vehicles, the fuel savings offset the additional cost over the course of about four years, said Marc Debont, a spokesman for the Brussels regional government. Bidding for operating the zero-emission vehicles was one of the few ways to gain new licenses in the city, where about 1,300 taxis are in operation.
"We are delighted to have assisted in bringing these zero-emission BYD vehicles to our taxi fleet," Pascal Smet, minister for mobility and public works in the Brussels region, said in BYD's statement. "They will help contribute to our efforts to reduce air pollution in our city and of course to demonstrate to our citizens the value of electric vehicles."