The first electric taxis will appear in South Africa

A consortium of business groups and researchers has announced plans to test electric vans in South Africa from 2023.

The pilot will initially start in and around Stellenbosch, with plans to expand to an educational road show in all nine provinces during 2023.

The project team consists of GoMetro, MiX Telematics, HSW, ACDC Dynamics and various organizations from the Faculty of Engineering at Stellenbosch University (SU), as well as the SU Center for Renewable and Sustainable Energy Research (CRSES).

The group said a number of viable electric van taxis have already been identified for various markets, with the first to hit the coast of South Africa by the end of the year.

The acceptance and practicality of the model will be carefully tested by taxi owners and drivers to determine the use cases and conditions under which an electric taxi would be most appropriate.

“Taxi drivers and owners are very interested and intrigued by the idea of ​​an electric van and keep asking us when the first electric van will arrive on our shores,” said Justin Coetzee, chief executive of GoMetro.

“We have established valuable relationships with a large number of taxi associations and ever-increasing fuel prices are of great concern to owners, drivers and passengers alike as no relief appears to be in sight. The industry has long recognized that business as usual is not enough – and that change is needed, especially in the aftermath of Covid-19.”

The aim of testing different models in the coming months is to determine which vehicle is best suited to South Africa’s public transport industry and which range of operations matches the capabilities of the vehicles.

In addition to testing the vehicle itself, the design team wants to engage with the automotive sector and policy makers to stimulate active discussions with the government on tariff reductions and promoting the introduction of electric vehicles in the transport sector.

Dr. Bernard Becker, Associate Director of the Center for Renewable and Sustainable Energy Studies at Stellenbosch University (CRSES), said that the future electrification of the transport sector in South Africa poses significant technical and regulatory challenges for integrating electric transport into our existing grid infrastructure.

These challenges are in many ways unique to South Africa, where taxi vans will potentially make up a much larger share of the future electric vehicle fleet than, for example, in Europe or the US.

“Having a real electric taxi van for our research activities will make a very valuable contribution to solving these problems.”

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