Converting NA 200,000 taxis to hybrids would save $75 billion in fuel by 2016
There are some 200,000 taxis in North America: 25,000 in Canada and more than 170,100 in America. Each taxi drives 10 times the distance of an average vehicle.
If each taxi was a hybrid, like my Toyota Prius, North American cab drivers would not only be reducing fuel usage by almost 3 billion litres a year, but the average taxi driver would save between $2,000 and $2,500 every month.
The industry as a whole would save more than $75 billion in fuel costs over a decade – and help achieve that much more energy security. More importantly, the most advanced hybrids reduce smog emissions by more than 70%.
Because they drive 10 times the distance of an average vehicle, converting 200,000 taxis to hybrids would have the same impact as converting two million vehicles – and reduce the smog of these two million vehicle equivalents by 70%. Because taxi fleets are operating 24 hours a day they create more smog than any of type of vehicle.
Having the majority of taxis as hybrids would accelerate the adoption rate of hybrids among average consumers. Taxis would serve as demonstration project to introduce average consumers hybrids technology.
How do many taxi owners buy their cars? At auction -- by buying second hand police cruisers -- vehicles that have oversided engines for chases. In other words the worst vehicles for high use taxis. The owner will be the car for $5,000 at auction but it will use $75,000 of fuel in the first two years.
Looking at the situation differently -- buying a $30,000 hybrid new that uses less than half the fuel would mean a net saving in the first 18 month.
In San Francisco the Crown Victoria gets 10-12 miles per gallon (actual use not fuel mileage ratings). San Fran is very hilly so vehicles get lower mileage than they are rated for. By contrast the Prius gets 40 miles per gallon (actual use). So cab drivers can cut their fuel cost by up to 75% if they have been driving a second hand Crown Victoria which was formerly a police chase vehicle.
Childhood Asthma in Cities
One in every five children in Canada will develop asthma before reaching adulthood. In 1970 the rate of childhood asthma was less than one in 50! Smog is a significant problem in many North America cities.
And why will one in every five children develop childhood asthma? It is simple. Every year, 4.3 billion kilograms of respiratory toxins are injected into the air in Canada alone. Smog from idling cars and coal fired electricity generation plants are the two main culprits.
In 2005, Toronto experienced more smog days than any other year on record. In fact , the smog was so bad that the Ontario Medical Association in June 2005 issued a report outlining that 5,800 people will die prematurely every year in Ontario because of smog related illness; there will be 17,000 emergency room visits in already overcrowded ERs, and it's going to cost taxpayers $7.8 billion due to respiratory illness.
What’s Holding this Change Back?
Since taxis are a primary contributor to smog and smog to illness, why are all taxis not hybrids? Simple: in municipalities taxi regulations require a certain number of interior cubic feet for a car model to qualify as a taxi. These are typically very large cars – even thought the vast majority of taxi fares are single person trips. The Prius the hybrid with the best fuel efficiency fall below the size requirement.
We need to bring together companies like Toyota, finance companies, heads of major taxi associations, along with the mayors of key cities and a limited number of key state and federal representatives to serve as a working group to catalyze change and accelerating the adoption of hybrid taxis.
Finance companies typically won’t lease cars to taxi drivers because they drive too many kilometers per year. By creating a special lease of say $1,000 a month instead of a consumer lease at $400 a month, the monthly fuel savings will be greater than the lease payments (With gas savings at $2,000+ per month cabbies still get to pocket more than $1,000 a month in fuel savings).
With hybrid car makers being certaint that demand will rise through efforts like this above, this woudl accelerate the construction of additional hybrid plants in North America without large incentives.
This is part of a multi-part series highlighting how we can substantially reduce greenhouse gas emissions at no cost. In the above example the taxi industry can save $50 billion of fuel cost over a decade and finance taxi fleet conversion to hybrids immediately without any captial cost -- by using a leasing model.
This series began because during Earth Day week, the federal Conservative Minister of the Environment testified before the Senate Environmental Committee that meeting the Kyoto carbon emissions targets would “manufacture a recession.” This multi-part series of posta present hard business cases will dispel this as pure myth.
For articles from other sources on this topic see:
NYC's Yellow Cabs Going Green at http://www.greenparty.ca/en/node/1754
Stay tuned for Part IV: Fuel Efficiency Standards could Eliminate the Need for all North American Oil Imports
Other posts in this series:
Vampire power: How to Save $6 Billion a year at no cost at www.greenparty.ca/en/node/1442
Shattering the Myth: Achieving Kyoto Targets will cost us at www.greenparty.ca/en/node/1384
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