Martin Furmyr has been driving a taxi in Oslo, Norway, for the past 30 years. In 2004, he started his own cab company. Until recently, he used a Toyota Prius in his business. Then one year ago, he got an Opel Ampera-E — aka European Chevy Bolt. After 47,000 kilometers, he says he would never go back to a car with an internal combustion engine, even if it is just there to play a supporting role as in the Prius Prime.
One of the big reasons he likes his Opel is its low operating costs. His Prius used about $500 a month in gasoline. The Opel only requires about $90 a month of electricity. In addition, regular maintenance for the Ampera-E is negligible. Every expense that can be reduced is like getting a raise for someone who is self employed. “I saved a large amount of money on the VAT exemption (Norway exempts electric cars from taxation at the time of sale), not to mention I do not need to spend money on maintenance costs every 30,000 km. My electric has hardly any service costs at all,” he tells Elbil, the Norwegian electric car association.
His only complaint with the car is that it takes a relatively long time to recharge in cold weather using fast charging equipment. But since he usually charges at night after his shift if over, that is seldom an issue. With over 400 kilometers of range, he says his car has almost enough battery capacity for two full days of driving, but he charges up every night just to be on the safe side.
When it comes to his fellow taxi drivers, Furmyr says they are a bunch of ultra-conservative idiots. “Many taxi owners have negative feeling about electric cars. I have colleagues who say straight out, ‘If I have to have an electric car, I will stop driving a taxi.’ For them, only a Mercedes E Class with a diesel engine is a real taxi.
“Unfortunately, the taxi industry is conservative. It is reactionary. It is controlled by men in their 60s and 70s. I think it’s sad that they are so stupid and prejudiced.” When the interviewer pointed out that he is in his 60s, he grinned and says, “Yes, but in my head, I’m 20. I call myself a futurist. I am curious, open, and keen on new things, and have faith in the future, especially when it comes to technical innovations. That’s why I’ve long thought that battery powered vehicles are the future.”
Furmyr has harsh words for the taxi industry in Norway. “They do not dare to do anything actively. Take the Taxifix app, for example. You could enter your own electric car order in the app to meet eco-friendly customers. But they do not dare, because other taxi owners, who might risk losing money, are against it.”
He bemoans the fact that in many parts of the city, there are as many as 50 diesel-powered taxis idling at the curb all day every day. He would like to see the local airport make special arrangements for electric taxis, following the lead of similar facilities in Stockholm, Copenhagen, and Amsterdam. “What does Avinor do? Nothing! At Gardermoen, there are plenty of old taxis all the time, with the engine running. The authorities have been too relaxed.”
Asked what he thinks the taxi business in Oslo will be like in 2025, he says, “It will certainly be electrified. The changes will come, whether the taxi industry wants them or not. They should listen a little more to people like me, who are curious, have visions, and are open to completely obvious possibilities.” He has his own webpage to promote electric taxis.
Furmyr has plans to add a second electric taxi, but this one will be a Kia Niro Electric. Why? “The reason I’m going to swap is that it can charge faster. The Kia can handle 100 kW, the one I have now only handles 40.” Elbil recently completed a winter driving test of 7 electric cars and found the new Hyundai Ioniq Electric, which has a smaller battery and less range than the Ampera-E, could complete a trip in less time because it was able to charge so much faster.
Notice to General Motors: If you intend to be a serious player in the world of electric cars, you need to amp up — pun intended — the wimpy charging capabilities built into your EVs.
Hat tip to Are Hansen.
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