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Hybrid Technologies Developing All-Electric Taxi for NYC

10 May 2006

Lithium_pt_cruiser
Electric PT Cruiser taxi.

Hybrid Technologies, a manufacturer of lithium-ion-powered aftermarket conversions, plans to build a taxi version of its battery-powered PT Cruiser, pursuant to negotiations with the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC). The Taxi Commission will vote on this project at a scheduled commission meeting.

Once approved by all parties, the taxi will be in regular service operated by a fleet. New York City’s first hybrid taxis—a mini-fleet of six Ford Escape hybrids—officially entered operation in November 2005. (Earlier post.)

We still need to work with the Taxi Commission prior to placing this vehicle in service; however, so far we have received highly supportive feedback.

—Holly Roseberry, President of Hybrid Technologies

Hybrid Technologies is currently producing lithium PT Cruisers to serve as taxi units for Paratransit, a large, California-based transportation non-profit.

The lithium PT Cruisers use a 320V battery pack that weighs 272 kg (600 pounds) and offers a cycle life of more than 1,500 charges. The taxi has a range of up to 150 miles, and can be fully charged in 5–6 hours using a conventional 110 volt current, according to the company.

According to the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission, each New York taxi averages nearly 100,000 miles of driving annually.

May 10, 2006 in Electric (Battery), Fleets | Permalink | Comments (34) | TrackBack (1)

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If I were a taxi fleet manager in NYC, I would be talking to Kold Ban International and the Electric Vehicle Institute in addition to Hybrid Technologies. ... [Read More]

Comments

A taxi with a range of only 150 miles? Hmm, not good.

And why put it in one of the ugliest cars ever made?

James, Historically taxis have always been ugly. It's too bad that you're stuck on esthetics rather than trying to clean the air up. Shame on you! And 150 miles is a lot considering the NY isn't that big in the first place. Most rides are short and therefore 150 could easily trael most of the day.


Wow! $50k to 75K banana?
With a recharge time of 5 to 6 hr, how to you keep it on the streets 24/7? swap battery packs?
I suppose Hybrid Tech is attempting to be the first pure EV for the Taxi cab commission and are promising 5-10 minute recharge in the near future?
Do they still get 150 miles range in the summer with the A/C?

According to this web site, http://www.pbs.org/wnet/taxidreams/data/index.html
the average miles driven per shift is 180. I assume that means that more than 180 miles are driven per day.

Richard, according to that article the average new york cab covers 100k miles a year. Thats alot more than 150 a day.
And what's wrong with having a nice looking vehicle?

It's encouraging to read that people are starting to get serious about fuel efficient vehicles. I hope it's not too late in stopping the effect it may have on our environment.

Let's all drive slower and conserve our consumption to show the oil companies and the producing nations we are serious.

If a taxi drives 100k miles/year two shifts 5 days a week, it will cover about 190 miles per shift.  It appears from this that the typical taxi is used for somewhat more than 10 shifts a week.

One of the reasons New York taxis drive so much is that the number of taxi permits has not been increased in many years.  If enough more taxis could be put on the street (perhaps by auctioning new permits and giving most of the proceeds to existing permit-holders) then these electric taxis might work just fine.  Availability of charging at taxi stands might also make them quite practical without other changes.

I fear the commission will reject its use, because it can't provide the level of service expected of a taxi:
Range(can they go out of town?)
A/C?
Heat!
downtime for re-charging
I have a feeling this EV car is a non-starter until a "better battery" is available.

The problem with 2 shift use is recharging the batteries between shifts (!). Perhaps they could build a swappable battery pack so you could have 2 or 3 of these and have 2 or 3 charging and swap them at shhift changeover.

Then you are in business (or else put a little diesel generator in the boot and run it like a serial hybrid when the charge gets low.

Taxis and delivery vans are an obvious target for ev / hybrid systems.

Just for the record, the First Taxi cabs in NYC, other than horse cabs of course, were electric.
It was one of the first uses of electric cars.
Joe

As a former taxi driver, here's a basic rundown on how it works.

People own medallions and typically band together to form a cooperative that is a cab company. The medallions give the owner the right to put an equal number of vehicles on the street. Municipalities regulate the number of medallions available.

Taxi drivers lease the cabs from the owners for a specified rate that depends on the shift. The cab driver pays for the fuel, and needs to tip at least the dispatcher.

So the owner of the cab makes money on renting the vehicle, and drivers can end up making little or no money in a given shift if business is slow. The owner makes money regardless of how many customers a driver gets.

That means that the owner(s) of the cab has an incentive to put as little money as possible into the vehicle itself - from purchase through repair and maintenance - and to keep the vehicle on the street as much as possible. The driver, however, has an incentive to have a reliable vehicle and low fuel costs. When you get issued a crap car for your shift, your lease price for the shift doesn't go down if your car dies on you, or has the blinkers go out, etc, and you need to get it towed or go back to the garage to get another vehicle.

My understanding (which could be wrong) is that the NYC Taxi Commission is giving out new medallions for hybrids and electrics at rates far below what it costs to get a normal medallion on the open market. So that would probably make up for the fact that the purchase price of the vehicle is high and, because of the long charge times, will only do one shift per day instead of two.

Obviously the driver will get a good deal on fuel costs, but the range limitation of the EV is going to be something they need to address, since that will cap repeated trips to the airport etc.

Swapping battery packs probably isn't a good idea as it will just add even more cost.

Although I'd like to see a true Cruiser Hybrid, NYC needs better surface mass transit. Consider Denver's TransTeq EcoMark hybrid buses. A 4-cyl, 2.5 liter, 70HP Ford engine (burning natural gas) and 26 deep-cycle batteries leverage 440HP to drive two electric motors. The 45' bus is a 4-door, totally low-floor, able to carry 117 passengers. These passengers may finish trips on foot.

Proponents of hybrids must not ignore how we drive too much. No hybrid is going to solve all problems related to car dependency.

Boycott the Honda Fit and the Toyota Shrimpy.

Does the Denver RTD use them on any routes besides the 16th Street Mall? If no, why not?

Swapping battery packs might add cost, but how else do you get the range ?
You either have a double sized battery (costs 2x, weighs 2x) or you stop to charge the battery between shifts.
A removable battery would be more awkward than a fixed one and would probably take more boot (trunk) space, but a car designed for one would not be too messy.
You could charge one while using the other.
I take the point about the medallion holder - they have no interest in a more effecient car, but if you could force the medallion holder to operate the car, it might be different.
Nontheless, this brings us to a variable sized plug in hybrid - you would have a modular battery and could select (say) 20, 30, 40 miles of EV travel.
Thus you could size your battery cost and weight to journey requirements. This would be a reasonable half way house until a full EV becomes available.

but if you could force the medallion holder to operate the car, it might be different

I was generalizing a bit. Depending on the locale, some drivers are owner-operators -- usually two immigrant guys who switch off every 12 hours, usually doing most of their business doing airport runs. But your standard big cab company is a coop of medallion owners.

In San Francisco, a good deal of them were retired police officers and firefighters, and they got their medallions years back at good prices -- kind of a backdoor retirement package. Those guys don't spend one minute on the street, nor will they ever.

The TransTeq EcoMark hybrids only run on Denver's busy 16th Street transit mall. They have a top speed of 30mph. Other models can go faster but use a larger engine. The 16th Street shuttles don't need to go any faster.

Oh wait, boycott not the Toyota Shrimpy, the Toyota Dinky. Tiny, lightweight cars have been tried already. Hybrids have more weight and size, yet can be built to get better MPG and more.

Oh wait, boycott not the Toyota Shrimpy, the Toyota Dinky. Tiny, lightweight cars have been tried already.

So you disagree with EF Schumacher and believe that small isn't beautiful?

This vehicle is just for publicicty, it would never work in the real world.
Perhaps a hybrid (maybe even a plug in) fueled by natural/bio gas could be good.

London designed a great purpose-built taxi (from a customer use standpoint - I don't know about its emissions). NYC and other congested cities could easily do/demand the same by offering healthy incentives and guidelines. Quick adoption could be driven by a low medallion price or outright ban on high emission vehicles (staggered over a few years - w/older high poluting vehicles being phased out first).

as to range, it seems a small hybrid system diesel or cng engine would work best, providing a constant trickle charge, with racks of batteries below the floor board. Much of the time NYC taxis are sitting - which means they would be charging - and still using much less fuel than an idling V8. ... Eventually improved battery technology will eliminate the need for the back-up power unit.

Also, high voltage/high amp quick charge systems are being developed and will be feasible within a year or two. a taxi could easily be charged during a 30 minute shift change. The charger would be metered and network attached, which would allow for instant fuel cost accounting and billing to the driver's account following each shift.

Taxis travel a max of 100 miles/day. 150 is more than enough.

How much will be the cost and whether it will recover it.

I doubt the costs will be recovered in an experimental one-off conversion, but it should provide useful data for future design considerations and the durability of the components. Once EVs are mass produced, then the costs will be low enough to consider recovering the cost, as well as gasoline prices will be higher so the cost of using conventional guzzlers will be higher.

As some else pointed out, the typical NY cab travels 100k miles/yr. That about 270miles/day!
So how is this going to work with only a 150 mile range?
If you include the power needed for heating or air conditioning, This car will fly like a lead battery.

But maybe (I know it say 5-6 hr,) if they can charge in 5-10 minutes, it should be okay.
Or maybe the passingers will need to BYOB( bring your own battery) :)

Using the latest Li-ion, or Li-poly battery packs the EV[Taxi] would have at least 300mpg range, and don't forget that many Taxis stop frequently for breaks and downtime, so those precious hours could be used for re-charging.

Also, fast recharging batteries will be available soon, [trust me I know so] and therefore, charging time would be done in minutes.

Additionally, don't forget private/corporate service cars, those cars that take people to their daily office jobs in Manhattan and take them back home[?] when they leave their skyscrapers. Most of those cars, don't run all day like a Taxi therefore they would not be affected by depletion of [battery] energy.

Also, Police cars, city fleet and so on...all of them and more would benefit if they used EV helping not only to cut down noise and air pollution, but also spending far less on fuel [primarily gasoline] thus helping the local [city] economy. This point is valid for all US metro areas where most of the daily traffic is one of the greatest contributors of [green-house gasses] global warming.

FS, Ph.D.
EV Visionary

BTW, I recently found out about a Japanese company which has developed what they call a FRBS, or Fast-Reload-Battery-System, for Evs. This FRBS requires no human interaction, and simple robotic actions swap the drained battery pack for a "fresh" new pack. [Sort of like when during the cowboy-era coaches would stop for fresh horse].

A system like this could be housed at strategic locations and obviously at the Taxi garage where returning Ev/Taxis would stop in between shifts.
It could also be positioned at freeway exits, pretty much like a gas station, where travelling EVs could stop to reload. Obviously, the battery pack would be owned by the charging stations [see Uhaul concept] and the driver would only pay for the full new charge or a fraction of it if the EV is only re-charged via grid, solar power and on-baord charger.

FS, Ph.D.
EV Fanatic

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