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Taxi Times International - June 2015 - English

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FUTURE TAXI FUTURE TAXI

FUTURE TAXI FUTURE TAXI Kris Mohan, RTC’s ‘Stig’, likes being a green pioneer. »Both RTC and Mohan had the same brainwave: to popularise the green taxi. And Mohan is really passionate about it« HYDROGEN NEWS TOYOTA MIRAI IN LARGE-SCALE PRODUCTION Kris Mohan is nothing like Top Gear’s ‘Stig’. No shining white fireresistant suit and racing helmet, but a distinguished black outfit with a very special, but small green logo on his breast pocket: a cab with an electric plug. Even so, Mohan is a real test-driver. When we spoke, about two months ago, his latest taxi model was already waiting for him: a very special Hyundai ix35 FCEV – a hydrogen (fuel cell) taxi. On April 8 Hyundai rolled out its first seven hydrogen cars in the Netherlands, just after the opening of Air Liquide’s first hydrogen filling station near Rotterdam. One of these seven ix35’s went to the Rotterdamse Taxi Centrale (RTC), with 500 taxis the second-largest dispatch-centre in the country. In The Netherlands Hyundai is offering its first commercial FCEV for sale for €55.000 (ex-VAT) and is looking for local governments throughout Europe that are interested to actively support the first roll out of these cars. “We’re the first company in Europe using it. I’ve already driven it, and it’s really somethin g special. Very green”, Kris grins. That green aspect is nothing new for RTC, where the CEO uses a Tesla S and contract work is done by a 100 minibuses on natural gas. When we spoke Mohan was still driving an electric BYD E6, which he was powering up during his break –and our interview- in front of the company’s headquarters. RTC’S GREEN ‘TEST PILOT’ But now, six weeks after he took delivery of the fuel cell-cab, Mohan is really enthusiastic: “It drives really well, accelerates properly and behaves well on the road. Inside it’s particularly quiet and the finish and quality inside are a bit better than that of the BYD. It has a more luxurious feel In less than two minutes the Fuel Cell taxi is fully charged. DUTCH ‘STIG’ TESTS FIRST HYDROGEN TAXI In Kris Mohan Rotterdam’s radio-circuit RTC has a special test driver for environmentally-friendly cabs. He now drives Europe’s first hydrogen taxi in regular commercial use. and that is good for our Business Class customers. That’s why we only identify the cab with magnetic stickers on the side, saying ‘Im using hydrogen’ because they prefer a more neutral vehicle.” Three years ago Mohan started as RTC’s ‘Stig’. Both RTC and Mohan had the same brainwave: to popularise the green taxi. And Mohan is really passionate about it. He started his ‘test’-career in the only electric model available at the time: the Nissan Leaf. “But that wasn’t really it as a cab”, he comments. “You had to charge it for at least an hour and range was minimal.” What did that experience teach you? “Planning, very efficient planning. From time to time you had to let a trip go, because the cab wasn’t charged enough.” E-CABS That didn’t happen with his next test model, BYD’s E6. “I have my regular con- PHOTOS: Hyundai, RTC PHOTOS: Toyota, Mercedes tract routes, schooltrips and social trips and at lunchtime I had my break and recharged the cab at the company. That gives me another 200 km range. Many colleagues prefer a Mercedes. They fill up the tank and they’re good for another 600 km. Their reactions to the e-cabs (there are 3 BYD E6’s at RTC) are mixed. They don’t think working like that is practical. E-cabs should have some more charging stations in the city.” “You don’t really do long social trips with these cabs. They are made for the city. When I see how polluted the innercity in Rotterdam can be, I’m really glad I can do something to improve the situation. But at the moment you get two Mercs for the same price as an electric cab. That’s not right. We could also do with some more hybrids as cabs.” FILLING UP Some of the minus-points of the Leaf and the BYD have been taken away by the fuel cell Hyundai: “Filling up only takes two minutes when the cab is nearly empty – otherwise it’s a minute and a half. I fill up when it fits in with my planning. The indicator tells me exactly how much I’ve got left. And after filling up I’m good for another 400 km’s and that’s much more than with the e-cabs. I don’t need to be so precise with my planning anymore”, laughs Mohan. When we discussed the BYD, Mohan said “People are always pleased to see the electric cab. And they take pictures.” Has that changed? “No, not at all. People are still amazed. ‘Is this really running on hydrogen’? they ask me all the time. And they take pictures. But they could also think a bit greener when they order a cab, and ask for an e-cab or this one.” Kris Mohan has one big wish (apart from driving the ix35 for another five years): “The price we pay for the hydrogen. It’s € 10 a kilo and you load about 4 kilos. That makes it almost as expensive as using diesel. That way you`re penalised when you think about the environment. So we really need the government to look into that, if they want to push the use of these vehicles as cabs.” wf The Asians are ahead of the others in the development of hydrogen vehicles for everyday use. Joining Hyundai’s ix35 FCEV, Toyota has also released a hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle in the upper mid-range for sale – the Mirai. What’s more, it is the first model that will be produced on a large scale. The Toyota Mirai has a range of 500 km and a system performance of 154 HP with 335 Nm of torque. The model has nearly the same range and performance as conventionally fuelled vehicles. The hydrogen is stored in two separate hydrogen tanks. The sales launch of the vehicle took place in Japan in mid- December. In the first month alone, 1,500 orders were received. Four hundred units had been had been forecast. Sixty per cent of the users are from the commercial and administrative sectors. The Mirai will be available in Europe by autumn. Toyota then intends to sweeten the deal on the car with an attractive leasing model. For example, the Mirai will be available in Germany for a net leasing rate of €1,219 per month, which includes costs for insurance, service, general inspection, and summer and winter tyre changes. jh Toyota Mirai: Available in Europe starting this autumn INFRASTRUCTURE DEVELOPMENT As the market for the first hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles matures, the infrastructure is also developing gradually. For example, the first hydrogen filling stations have been opened along a motorway in Germany. Fifty stations are to be set up in the metropolitan regions and along main traffic axes by the end of the year. Currently 18 H2 filling stations are accessible to the public, seven of which are operated by TOTAL. The construction costs came to a quarter of a million euros. Gas-specialist Linde AG is one of the leading manufacturers in the area of hydrogen technology. A PR spokesman for the company claims that 90 filling stations have been established in 15 countries. The world’s first mass-produced H2 filling station is said to be operational in Vienna. jh Mercedes B-class: First hydrogen-fuelled prototypes 22 TAXI JUNE / 2015

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