Japan is getting its first fleet of electric taxis, as Nissan starts an experimental project to solve some of the problems that other EV taxi proponents have faced. The project will run from April 18th to July 20th, after which Nissan will either have a working fleet of zero-emissions taxis or decide that the Leaf is better for private use only.
The project is called the EV Taxi Share Station, and both branches of it are sponsored by Nissan Motor Co., Ltd. One branch is in Kanagawa (that would be Kanagawa Prefecture, part of the greater Tokyo Area), where it’s sponsored by the Kanagawa Prefecture Taxi Association in addition to Nissan. This branch, titled the Kanagawa EV Taxi Project, will be aimed at people in rural as well as more urban areas. The other branch is in Yokohama City (the capital of Kanagawa Prefecture). Named the Yokohama Mobility Project Zero, it will be focusing on a very urban environment.
The advantages of electric cars as taxis are immediately obvious — super low fuel cost is the first, while less noise, vibration, and a low center of gravity make a comfortable ride an easy second. Low maintenance cost is another point for electric taxis.
The disadvantages, of course, are the same as for an individual owning an electric car — the range of the car and how long it takes to charge can be prohibitive, especially when the business depends on running the car all over town and beyond. Nissan’s solution is the EV Taxi Share Station.
No, Really, Alternative
The EV Taxi Share station is exactly what it sounds like. Nissan plans to install an extra spot for electric taxis to wait and recharge their batteries next to currently existing taxi stands. Standard gas-driven taxis and electric taxis will alternate in taking fares (hence the word “share”) so that the company benefits from the low cost of running EVs (when available) and isn’t hurt by potential downtime while the cars recharge.
Nissan hopes that the alternating taxi solution will help promote the normalcy of electric cars into areas where there might not be many. The use of existing taxi stands will hopefully cut down on installation costs and also help electric cars spread out past the city.
Let us know how you think their three-month experiment will turn out in the comments, below!
Source | Images: Nissan
Charis Michelsen spent 7 years living in Germany and Japan, studying both languages extensively, doing translation and education with companies like Bosch, Nissin, Fuji Heavy, and others. Charis has a Bachelor of Science degree in biology and currently lives in Chicago, Illinois. She also believes that Janeway was the best Star Trek Captain.