Seven electric buses have been put into service in Hualien on the National Dong Hwa University and Taroko Gorge National Park routes. Three more units are expected to be added to the fleet before the end of the year.
The buses were put to the test by being driven from the west coast to Hualien. The buses left a factory in Miaoli County, and were driven via the National Highway and the notorious Suhua Highway. The Suhua Highway offers spectacular coastal views, but has steep sections, is very windy and narrow, has many tunnels, and is prone to rockfalls and landslides. The air-conditioners on the buses were left on full power for the whole 320.7km-long journey, and the buses arrived in Hualien with 40% power still remaining.
Electric buses were first brought into service in county in 2014, but had to be replaced due to frequent breakdowns. The new buses are made by Taichung-based Kaison Green Energy Technology Co. (KGET). The lithium-ion batteries are also made in Taiwan. The buses have a range of 250-300 kilometers.
Taroko Bus Traffic Co., who will operate the buses said that the electric buses were more expensive to purchase than diesel-powered buses. However, running costs were much lower. It only costs NT$400 per day to power the electric buses, while a diesel bus uses NT$3000 per day worth of fuel. Maintenance costs for the electric buses are also much lower.