The Push Towards Hybrid TaxisFriday, October 25, 2013 by: Greener Ideal
Hybrid cars are enjoying immense popularity right now among consumers. People have started to embrace the concept of having a dual-powered vehicle as they can enjoy the best of both worlds. The fears associated with reliability have largely been dispelled thanks to the performance of the hybrid models. Even taxi operators who are known for being conservative and picky are adding hybrids to their fleets. This vote of confidence bolsters the image of these green cars as dependable workhorses, making believers out of skeptics and signaling a bright future for this segment.
The role of local governments in this taxi revolution cannot be dismissed. They were instrumental in convincing operators to try hybrids back when nearly everyone doubted that they could perform at a high level. Cabs are often driven in shifts 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The old Crown Victoria models are already proven to withstand the demands of the road so they dominated most fleets at the turn of the millennium. Yet the cities of San Francisco, New York, Boston, Chicago, Seattle, and others persevered. They offered licensing discounts, subsidies, and other perks for both operators and drivers.
Eventually, they were able to convince a handful to test out hybrid cabs. In 2005, for instance, the city of San Francisco welcomed its first 15 yellow-clad Ford Escapes. The program became so successful that now over half of the city’s taxi fleet is composed of hybrids. The pioneer cars were retired in 2009 after logging over 300,000 miles on the road as mandated by law. Note, however, that they are still in good condition and that retirement was done purely for legal compliance. New York, a city with a vibrant taxi culture, achieved remarkable success with its own program as well with operators voluntarily adding hybrids once they saw how good they can be for business.
Local economic woes and trouble in the Middle East have made fuel prices soar to unprecedented levels. People are searching for more secure alternatives that would enable them to save on operating costs. Hybrid cars offer fantastic fuel economy compared to their traditional counterparts. The Crown Victorias can only manage to squeeze out 12 miles for every gallon while Ford Escape Hybrid, despite its size, can get about 36 miles for the same amount of gas. The savings can really add up to the tune of thousands of dollars over a year, most of which goes to the drivers.
In conventional cars with combustion engines, stepping on the brakes generate friction that helps to slow things down. This produces a lot of heat and wears out the braking pads very quickly. The braking system of hybrids differs in design in that pressing on the brake pedal sends a signal to the electric motor to slow the car down and recharge the batteries. In stop-and-go traffic, the brake pads are not required. They are engaged only when the car stops to a halt at the end of the cycle.
Hybrids are perfect for inner city driving where narrow streets, traffic lights, and local laws limit cruising speeds. When the cars are moving at a rate of less than 25 miles per hour, they can run entirely off of the battery, which translates into vastly reduced emissions. This offers quite a relief for the environment since cabs are driven ten times more than the average car. Some of the most progressive cities around the world are targeting a 30% reduction in vehicle emissions a decade or two from now and the use of hybrid taxis is an integral part of the plan.