Electric taxis to hit congested, smoggy streets of Santiago

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Published On : Thu, Mar 6th, 2014

Environment and transport ministries open licitation on 29 lithium ion battery cars, which will be put into rotation over the course of 2014.

Pedro Pablo Errázuriz (right), worked with María Ignacia Benitez (left, center) to introduce electric taxis to Chile. Photo via Rsmotor / Twitter

Pedro Pablo Errázuriz (right), worked with María Ignacia Benitez (left, center) to introduce electric taxis to Chile. Photo via Rsmotor / Twitter

Santiago will soon have its first fleet of electric taxis, after two government ministries teamed up with a major power supplier to buy the patent for the Chinese-made cars.

The city’s geographic location between two mountain chains and high-population density make smog and congestion major problems for the more than six million people who call it home. Local health authorities frequently issue health alerts due to dangerous levels of air pollution.

The new fleet of 29 BYE e6 taxis will run completely on electricity with the use of a lithium ion battery and will not only release no fumes, they will also be virtually noiseless.

In a press conference at Paseo Bulnes Wednesday morning Environment Minister María Ignacia Benítez and Transport Minister Pedro Pablo Errázuriz, opened the initIative for licitación.

“Today we are happy to see entrepreneurs and businesses which are willing to help in the [air] decontamination — now we have new vehicles which will contribute to that cause,” Errázuriz said.

Also present was Compañía Chilena de Electricidad (Chilectra) CEO Cristián Fierro, whose company has already opened ten stations to recharge the cars batteries across the capital, a figure it hopes to double over the course of the year.

Marcelo Fernández, head of the Environment Ministry’s Air Quality Division, told The Santiago Times the taxis won’t be operational for another couple months, but the ministry hopes to put a total of 29 into rotation by the end of 2014. Nineteen of the cars will be “basic,” meaning they will function much like regular taxis — circulating the city looking for passengers — and 10 will be “executive” taxis which are contracted for specific trips.

In an interview with CNN Chile on Thursday, Chilectra’s Environmental and Innovations Manager Jean Paul Zalaquett said that for drivers already considering obtaining an electric taxi, Chilectra would be able to install a charging station in their home for their new vehicle.

Zalaquett claimed that driving roughly 300 miles in one of the BYD e6 electric taxis would cost a driver about US$23, compared to the approximately US$60 for the same distance in a conventional vehicle.

The electric fleet will be differentiated from regular taxis by white and green paint jobs.

Ivan Vargas (ivan@santiagotimes.cl)
Copyright 2014 – The Santiago Times

About the Author

Ivan Vargas
Ivan Vargas
Ivan has a degree in Journalism and Ethnomusicology from The University of Florida. He enjoys writing about environmental and human rights issues, as well as food and economics. His work has been published in The Independent Florida Alligator and the annual literary magazine, Miambiance. He was born and raised in Miami, Florida. Contact him at ivan@santiagotimes.cl.