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Published on July 18th, 2016 | by Jose Pontes


Looking For EVs In Barcelona (Spain)

July 18th, 2016 by  

The first thing that struck me when I arrived at the airport in Barcelona was the large number of Toyota Prius taxis. I know they are not plug-ins and they shouldn’t be on this post, but it was hard to escape the fact that some 25% of all taxis were Prii, with this model representing an even larger percentage of taxis in the Old Town.

I knew the Toyota Prius was a popular choice for taxi fleets in Spain, but in Barcelona they have a high point, and it’s not only taxis — the Police also uses them.

Barcelona taxi Prius 3 Barcelona taxi Prius 2

The third-generation Prius (the one above) represents the largest portion of them, but there are also some second-generation units running around, as well as the seven-seater Prius + / Prius V.

First- and fourth-generations are a rarity. I saw one of each but both were from private owners.

Moving on to actual EVs, the most visible were fleet units, as with the city-owned Piaggio EVs, working as garbage trucks in the narrow Ramblas of the Old Town….

Electric street vehicles

Piaggio EV mini garbage trucks

.… Or the rental Renault Twizzies, which are one of the best ways to know the town — they not only feel at ease in the (many times) clogged streets of Barcelona, but they are also a blast to drive, especially once you incorporate “vacation mode” and let yourself go from everyday rational thinking. This is probably one of the most suited vehicles to use during the always short summer vacation periods.

Reanult Twizy Barcelona

33ºC, sun & beaches nearby: The ideal place for a Twizy

Renault Twizy rentalBack to more mainstream EVs, there weren’t that many zooming around. I counted one Renault Zoe, one BMW i3, and two Nissan Leafs, one of them being a taxi.

These days spent here helped me to understand why the Spanish EV market has such a high share of LCVs and fleet deals. It seems that private buyers are still unaware/reluctant to jump into the EV bandwagon, whereas fleet buyers, both public and private, are more open to it — not only with light vehicles, but also regarding buses, as an important percentage of them were either hybrid or running on natural gas.

A final note for a solar hybrid catamaran boat that makes small cruise trips along the Barcelona coast: the lack of engine noise during the trip makes the whole experience much more pleasant and inviting, making me wonder if the next step for transport electrification won’t happen in boats…. 


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About the Author

Always interested in the auto industry, particularly in electric cars, Jose has been overviewing the sales evolution of plug-ins through the EV Sales blog since 2012, allowing him to gain an expert view on where EVs are right now and where they are headed in the future. The EV Sales blog has become a go-to source for people interested in electric car sales around the world. Extending that work and expertise, Jose is now a partner in EV-Volumes and works with the European Alternative Fuels Observatory on EV sales matters.

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