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Electric taxi plan didn’t take off

Upon first hearing that the San Francisco initiative to add a line of clean-energy electric taxis has hit the breaks–or rammed into a brick wall, depending on how you look at it–your first reaction might be disappointed.

That is until you learn the company that was supposed to receive the 61 electric cabs was never gung-ho on the project to begin with.

In addition to reporting that the $7 million initiative has crumbled, Yellow Cab, the company chosen to launch the electric taxi line, was never really on board with the plan to begin with. Jim Gillespie, a manager at Yellow Cab, told the Examiner:

“We were never really over-hyped about this. We just wanted to show our public support for the plan.”

Dang. Ye of little faith.

Start-up company Better Place was supposed to pair with SFMTA to install charging stations and finding manufacturers to make the 61 electric taxis. However, after years of struggling to find funding for the initiative, Better Place decided to abandon the project, scale down their work in California and focus more on Israel and Denmark.

None of the $7 million federal grant has been spent thus far. As for now, Metropolitan Transportation Commission will get to keep $1 million “to pursue other clean-energy initiatives.” However, they will have to submit a new proposal within the next few months if they want to keep the remaining $6 million.

But even with a several-month block to come up with a new proposal, Gillespie still doesn’t sound very optimistic. He told the Examiner:

“The technology just isn’t there yet for this to be practical.”

He added that an electric taxi would need to be able to travel at least 200 miles before recharging for the venture to be successful. As of late, these cars can only go 75 miles before needing to be recharged.


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