If you want to understand how governments can fuel the rise of new technologies, look no further than the taxi fleets of Beijing.

Five years ago, the city revealed plans to ban the introduction of fossil fuel-powered taxis. Today, thousands of the cars run on batteries instead. And the drivers of these electric vehicles (EVs) don’t have to worry about wasting time at charging stations, either.

Many electric taxis in Beijing, and dozens of other Chinese cities, just go to a battery-swapping station where a machine plucks out the depleted battery and installs a charged one in mere minutes.

“They want to drive out there and earn some money so they definitely don’t want to wait two hours for EV charging,” explains I-Yun Lisa Hsieh from National Taiwan University.

This is just one facet of the increasingly diverse and booming market for electric cars in China. Members of the public are also snapping up EVs in unprecedented numbers.

In July, the China Passenger Car Association predicted that 6 million new EVs would be registered in the country in 2022 – a revision of its previous forecast of 5.5 million EVs to be sold this year.