LHASA, Dec. 5 (Xinhua) -- The first batch of new energy taxis has hit the road in Lhasa, capital of southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region, according to the Lhasa Communication Industry Group.
Some 182 hybrid electric taxis were put into operation on Monday, said Cao Zhiming, chair of the company.
He said the vehicles only use fuel when driving at a speed of over 40 kph, when they are automatically charging the electric batteries.
The new energy vehicles (NEVs) can help meet the city's environmental protection goals, as there are not yet enough chargers for pure electric cars in the region, Cao said.
Lhasa will gradually replace traditional taxis with NEVs and the phased-out vehicles will not be resold for private use, he added.
The number of vehicles on Tibetan roads has rocketed by 73.1 percent to 457,000 over the past five years, thanks to robust economic growth and improved transport facilities.
However, with an average height of 4,000 meters above sea level, the plateau region's ecological environment is vulnerable. With 313 good air days in 2016, Lhasa ranked 12th among the 74 cities included in China's key environmental monitoring.
Last year, the regional government launched an initiative called "putting the environment first" which encouraged the use of clean energy to drive the region's economic growth.