A Perth taxi company is using two electric cars as taxis in the city’s CBD, in a trial to assess the viability of battery electric vehicles for on-demand transport.
The Hyundai Ioniqs, which have up to 280km of driving range, are in the service of Perth’s largest taxi company Swan Taxis, which is owned by Singapore-based ComfortDelGro.
It’s a leadership push by the land transport company which already has four electric taxis in use in its hometown of Singapore.
“We are trialling them to put back into the community, and also as a future active way of putting our toe in the water with electric vehicles,” says Eddy Ciciriello, marcoms manager for ComfortDelGro in Western Australia.
Australia’s taxi fleet, which is comprised largely of hybrid vehicles, already has the lowest average emissions intensity out of various fleet types in Australia, according to a 2017 report from the National Transport Commission, at 144gm of CO2 emitted per kilometre.
With approximately 2,000 taxis as of late 2018 operating in the Perth area, the success of the trial could mean a big impact if a shift to zero emissions vehicles can be achieved.
Operating under then name EV Cabs, the company offers completely zero tailpipe emissions trips for passengers, often at a cheaper rate than internal combustion engine (ICE) trips, and with a feelgood environmentally friendly feel.
In order to address the disruption of the taxi industry by rideshare companies like Uber, the WA Labor government introduced a 10% levy for on-demand transport to fund the buyback of taxi licences.
However, electric vehicles are exempt from the rule, meaning that trips in the electric taxis are cheaper if they cost under the $100 limit imposed by the rule.
Feedback from passengers has so far been positive, says Ciciriello.
“They think it’s great, it’s different, it’s quiet and they are actually quite roomy,” he tells The Driven.
24 hour availability for electric taxis for the moment is not an option however, due to the limited driving range of the Ioniqs, which have about 200km less range than their Kona Electric stablemate.
“Range issues is the main negative,” says Ciciriello.
“Currently, the drivers have a lunch break half way through the day and charge up,” he says,
Installing its own charging infrastructure for two vehicles is cost prohibitive, says Ciciriello, although if the trial is successful and ComforDelGro introduces more EVs as prices come down, that may be an option down the track.
There is currently one DC fast charger in Perth’s CBD, operated by WA motorist organisation RAC.
“There is an increasing need for the right infrastructure,” says Ciciriello.
In the meantime, EV Cabs is making use of the local DC charger as well as charging overnight at its depot – and to ensure it is as eco-friendly as possible, it is offsetting the carbon emissions with green energy through its energy retailer here.
Bridie Schmidt is lead reporter for The Driven, sister site of Renew Economy. She specialises in writing about new technology and has been writing about electric vehicles for two years. She has a keen interest in the role that zero emissions transport has to play in sustainability and is co-organiser of the Northern Rivers Electric Vehicle Forum.