Dubai: Dubai’s fleet of hybrid taxis is set to expand significantly with 55 vehicles joining the existing 99.

Cars Taxi, which last year became the first private taxi franchise to roll out hybrid vehicles with 29 units, has rolled out the 55 Toyota Camry hybrids and plans to replace its entire fleet with the eco-friendly vehicles.

“We are planning to expand our hybrid fleet to 7,000 vehicles across the UAE, and around half of it is likely to be in Dubai. We are really impressed by the performance of these vehicles and are looking forward to replacing our entire fleet with hybrids soon,” Abdullah Sultan Al Sabbagh, CEO of Cars Taxi Group, said.

Cars Taxi operates 1,860 cabs in Dubai, which is around 20 per cent of the city’s overall taxi fleet of 9,142. The company also operates taxis in other emirates, including Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, Ajman and Fujairah.

“Currently, we have 100 hybrids in our fleet across the UAE and we have found these vehicles to be very cost-effective and eco-friendly. We have been able to save around Dh14,000 per car per year in fuel costs through our hybrid fleet and savings in overall operation cost, including reduction in maintenance, has led to a saving of Dh468,000 per year,” he added.

The hybrid vehicles are powered by a combination of electricity and petrol. The vehicle runs on a self-charging electric motor and uses electricity as its fuel when it is driven within the speed of 40km/h, exceeding which it shifts to petrol.

This translates into a reduction of carbon emissions by up to 30 per cent compared to a regular vehicle.

“Our initial fleet of 29 hybrid Camry vehicles in Dubai has saved more than 278,916 litres of fuel over a period of 13 months, saving approximately 47 grams per kilometre in CO2 emission in the process, a significant benefit to the UAE environment,” Al Sabbagh said.

Alan Carpenter, General Manager of Sales and Marketing at Al Futtaim Motors, said hybrid vehicles are also cheaper to maintain.

“The hybrid Camry not just reduces operation costs, its maintenance cost is also significantly low. Its brake pads and tyres last longer because the power delivery in the car is very smooth. It is also less noisy,” said Carpenter.

In 2013, Dubai Taxi Corporation (DTC), a subsidiary of the Roads and Transport Authority, launched Dubai’s first hybrid taxis with 20 units after completing a trial on 10 vehicles that lasted for four years. DTC currently operates 70 hybrid taxis, raising the combined hybrid fleet of the city to 154.

Overall, Dubai is served by 9,142 taxis, with the number set to reach 9,500 by the end of this year.