There was recently an amazing holiday Tesla meetup in Budapest, with a twist — all of the Teslas were taxi cabs.
There were, I believe from the translation that Google provided, a total of 12 Tesla taxis that drove along several of Budapest’s famous roads, such as Hősök tere, Andrássy út, Széchenyi Lánchíd, Clark Ádám tér, and Várkert Bazár. The fleet of electric taxis brought holiday cheer to all of the passers-by. Hungary’s only Model X taxi was also present.
In the tweet below, Renata Konkoly shared that it was mind blowing that there were more than 10 Tesla taxis in her country’s capital city. The white Model X, she noted, was named Rudolph. It came from Szeged, which is Hungary’s third-largest city.
Incredible video of a Tesla taxi meetup and Christmas parade in Budapest, Hungary 🚕⚡🇭🇺
— Renata Konkoly 🐢🦔 (@RenataKonkoly) December 15, 2020
Although 12 may seem like a small number when thinking about taxi companies across America, Hungary is a bit different. Hungary’s capital city, Budapest, only had 1.7 million people as of 2016. In comparison, the Atlanta metropolitan area has more than 6 million people and is the ninth-largest metro area in the nation.
Tesla taxis are becoming more popular. Back in November, yellow Tesla Model 3 taxis appeared in New York City.
Cutting Taxi Emissions
It should be noted that the rise of Uber and Lyft are providing major competition for taxi companies in cities around the world, driving down costs. The rise of Uber and Lyft also created another problem — more driving and thus more pollution.
Notably, Transport Environment (T&E) conducted an opinion survey that showed that citizens in cities where Uber operated were more aware of the environmental impact of ride-hailing and taxi services. T&E argues that licensing of Uber and similar services should be made conditional on the vehicles being electric.
T&E used YouGov to survey over 12,500 people in seven EU countries. It found that around half of Londoners believed that Uber had a negative impact on pollution. In Paris, 34% said Uber impacted pollution levels negatively. The survey also showed that Uber had 3.6 million users in London in 2019 and 2.7 million in France in 2017.
The survey also showed that 52% of taxi and Uber customers in the EU countries are open to paying an extra €0.15 to €0.20 per km for a zero-emission ride. For 6 out of 10 people between the ages of 18 and 24, this was even more true — they were willing to pay even more if their ride was in a zero-emissions car.
Yoann Le Petit, T&E’s mobility expert, shared her thoughts on the importance of Uber becoming a 100% zero-emissions service. “With French government data from 2017 showing that 90% of the registered private hire vehicles, including Uber’s, were diesel, the future of such ride-hailing services has to be zero-emission or not at all. Uber needs to help its drivers with the upfront cost of switching to electric cars – e-vehicles are cheaper to run than fossil fuel cars due to lower fuel, insurance, and maintenance costs. And city governments need to help everyone by introducing low and zero-emission zones in city centers like in London and ramping up fast charging availability for taxis and ride-hailing services.”
It’s notable that idling cars create more tailpipe pollution. Idling, which many taxi-based vehicles do in between rides, is a serious problem for the environment.
In Montana, a study was conducted on vehicle idling and its effects on air quality in Ravalli County. Way up there in the cold, many people will take 15–20 minutes to warm their cars as the temperature drops under zero. Some will even leave their vehicles idling in the parking lot while they shop! (Do they not have car thieves up there?!) Although this study doesn’t address idling from taxis and ride-hailing services and how it impacts the environment, it does show how much idling affects a county.
The report noted that an hour of automobile idling burns 1/5 of a gallon of gas and releases around 4 pounds of CO2 into the air. If you take these numbers and apply them to every idling car on the planet, the numbers add up to toxic levels globally.
Knowing that taxis and ride-hailing services contribute more to idling should worry you. However, looking at the Instagram posts of the Tesla taxis dotted throughout this article should not only warm your heart, but bring hope — change is here and it’s happening. These vehicles create zero emissions.
Renata Konkoly, whose tweet I shared in this piece, shared her thoughts with me on how amazing it is to see the taxi drivers’ and taxi companies’ commitment to a cleaner environment — especially in her home country of Hungary.
“Last year, there were three Model S taxis in Budapest and I was really surprised when I saw these photos of the Christmas parade. It’s amazing to see the taxi drivers’ and companies’ commitment to a cleaner environment and more electric vehicles in their fleet across Hungary. Driving or just sitting in a Tesla is also fun, and I can’t wait to experience this as a passenger in the near future!”
Renata also mentioned that she was excited about Tesla’s plans to open a store and service center in Budapest, where they’re starting to hire.