Electric cars are making their ways into taxi fleets around the world and Canada is no longer and exception, with the announcement of the city’s first all-electric taxi fleet.
The project started to take shape back in August 2015, when Taxelco (a startup created by venture capitalist firm XPND Capital, managed by Dragon’s Den panelist Alexandre Taillefer) acquired Taxi Hochelaga, Montreal’s second largest taxi company, and its fleet of 500 cars.
The idea was to have a couple thousand electric taxis on Montreal streets by the time 2020 rolled around, at an estimated cost of about $250 million, and the idea began to take shape a couple weeks ago when the company started a pilot project involving a fleet of 50 electric vehicles that included Kia Soul EVs, Nissan Leafs and Tesla Model Ss that took to the streets Nov. 26, 2015. The service will reportedly also expand to Model S limousines to compete with the likes of Uber.
“This announcement is a huge milestone for Montréal’s taxi industry. Our new electric taxi project is called Téo, which stands for Transport Écologique Optimisé, or optimized environmental transportation,” said Taillefer. “We are fortunate to have partnered with all-electric car manufacturers such as Nissan, and we are confident that these zero-emission vehicles will meet the needs of both taxi drivers and their customers.”
The Beginning of December saw the company take delivery of 24 2016 Leafs and gave Taxelco the opportunity to unveil its visual identity and the service’s communications platform.
“It’s inspiring to see that companies such as Taxelco want to make the taxi industry more profitable as well as improving its environmental footprint by using fully electric vehicles,” said Christian Meunier, president of Nissan Canada. “Nissan is delighted to have been chosen as a partner and supplier of electric vehicles for Montréal’s electric taxi pilot project. Together, we are proud to show that emission-free driving makes sense from a cost of ownership perspective, and also helps to achieve healthier and more habitable cities.”
Nissan’s partnership in the venture is attributable to the company’s success with electric vehicle sales in Quebec, where over 50% of Leaf sales are rooted. The new Leaf has a larger battery (now 30 kWh, up from the previous version’s 24) to give it best-in class range of 172 km, which should make it fairly viable for daily service within the city core, while a quick charger connection means each car will be out of service for less time.
Nissan also markets an electric taxi version of its NV200 minivan (going into service in various cities including Amsterdam, Barcelona and London), which many believe a better choice for taxi service due to the increased space for passengers and their luggage.