Matthew W. Daus, President of the International Association of Transportation Regulators (IATR) was the featured speaker in a session on the “Adoption of Cleaner and Innovative Vehicle Design,” hosted in December by the International Association of Public Transport (UITP). Daus’s presentation, titled “Infrastructure Developments and Vehicle Design for EVs in the U.S.,” addressed the opportunities and challenges for the electrification of taxis and private hire vehicles.
In the U.S., electric taxis are slowly gaining popularity, and are “attractive targets” for electrification, due to factors such as high mileage, potential fuel savings (as compared to gasoline-burning vehicles), the potential for integration with autonomous vehicles, and emissions reductions. The idea of electric taxis dates back to 1894 when a vehicle called the Electrobat was used as a taxicab in NYC, among other places in the U.S.
Over the past decade, EV taxi pilots have faced two major hurdles: “range anxiety” and a lack of charging infrastructures. Fortunately, technology has evolved to the point where they offer sufficient battery range to operate as taxis. The only problem remaining is the availability of “fast chargers.” While the economics of a robust charging infrastructure remains a challenge, it could be solved with bold moves by progressive, forward-thinking regulators and legislators.
“There is hope on the horizon with President-elect Joe Biden’s plan to accelerate the adoption of EVs through funding for a network of 500,000 charging points, tax credits, and funding for research and development,” explained Daus. “The formula for success would include coordinated government effort and public-private partnerships.”