ISTANBUL, June 16 (Xinhua) -- Electric taxis hit the road for the first time in Istanbul on Friday as part of efforts to reduce the congestion besetting the most populous city of Turkey.
The district of Beyoglu and the Istanbul Chamber of Taxi Drivers jointly introduced the new vehicles at a pre-dawn Ramadan breakfast in the popular Taksim Square.
In the eyes of Taxi drivers, the new cars are "very appropriate" for the traffic in Istanbul, as they are small in size but has ample interior space.
"We are also very happy that we will be able to contribute to the cleanliness of Istanbul's air and water as the new vehicles are environment friendly," said Yahya Ugur, head of the chamber.
"Tonight's surprise was the electric vehicles," said Ahmet Misbah Demircan, mayor of Beyoglu, as he went for a short drive around the square on an electric taxi.
"I thank all my taxi brothers for their contributions to the tourism and transportation of our city," he added.
According to district officials, the electric taxis can run as fast as 140 kilometers per hour and travel up to 300 km on full charge.
One electric vehicle costs about 37,000 U.S. dollars, but the district has an all-inclusive package for taxi drivers that includes vehicles' periodic maintenance, utilization of charging stations, insurance and road assistance at an affordable price.
About 500 to 600 electric taxis are expected to be on the road in the metropolis by the end of this year, according to the officials.