Hybrid taxis hit Canadian roads

June 29, 2008  

All across Canada, taxi companies are in the fast lane to going hybrid. With high gasoline prices as well as more provinces passing legislation that helps or mandates emissions reduction efforts, more and more taxi companies are getting a charge out of adding electric vehicles to their fleets.

For some cities, the pothole on the road to adopting hybrid technology is long winters, with cold temperatures, which can make for a difficult environment for battery-operated vehicles. One such city is Calgary, where drivers of existing hybrid taxis are starting to note benefits from using the environmentally friendly vehicles despite fears around cold weather. “They’re so good because they cut a driver’s cost of gas in half a night,” says the president of Associated Cabs Ltd. in this article.

In Ottawa, the roadblock has been a taxi bylaw that restricts the use of small taxis with minimal trunk space for luggage, a characteristic of hybrids. But, according to this article, Ottawa’s taxis may soon go hybrid after all, as one councilor works to put the brakes on the impeding bylaw. While concerns still abound about costs and how well the hybrids will fare in winter, the article shows interest in driving and riding hybrids among Canadians remains strong. The same article points to winter-wonderland Winnipeg as an example, saying that 70 per cent of regular sedans in the city’s taxi fleet are hybrids.

But in which Canadian city can you expect to hail a hybrid the most? Not surprisingly, try Vancouver or Victoria. Although B.C drivers can get a rebate of up to $2,000 for purchasing a hybrid vehicle, taxi companies on the coast are discovering that, regardless of government incentives, incorporating hybrids in their fleets simply makes good business sense.