Chile launches a taxi electric vehicle exchange programme

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Chile’s energy ministry is spearheading a programme to encourage taxi owners to switch to electric vehicles (EVs).

The programme is making available financing of up to Cl$8 million (US$11,000) towards the acquisition of an electric taxi, installation of a home charging station and technical support for the vehicle for one year.

On top of this, the state bank Banco Estado is offering participants in the programme a financing option for co-payment with a preferential rate for the acquisition of the vehicle.

The programme, named My Electric Taxi, opens in mid-February in the southern Santiago municipalities of Puente Alto and San Bernardo. At least 50 drivers in these municipalities are expected to benefit.

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“Today there are significant barriers for taxi drivers to access electric vehicles, mainly in terms of initial investment, knowledge of technology and load management,” says Juan Carlos Jobet, Minister of Energy and Mining.

“That is why we launched this programme to bring the benefits of electromobility to taxi drivers and also to users in general.”

Approximately 36% of final energy consumption in Chile is in the transportation sector, primarily imported fossil fuels, which is behind the strong push to electromobility and particularly in public transport including taxis and buses.

Currently there are about 1,800 EVs in Chile comprised of light and heavy duty vehicles but fewer than one hundred electric taxis and city buses.

Figures from the Energy Sustainability Agency, which is the implementing agent, indicate that a taxi that travels 80,000km per year would consume Cl$4 million (US$5,539) on fuel, whereas an electric taxi would require around Cl$1.7 million (US$2,354) in electricity. In addition, the maintenance costs of the EV are cheaper than a conventional vehicle.

Following an earlier call for a single supplier of electric taxis, the Chinese manufacturer BYD has been selected and will make inroads into this segment, as it has in the supply of electric buses in Latin America.

BYD is supplying its e5 model at a negotiated final price of less than Cl$22 million (US$30,467), with a 500,000km guarantee on the vehicle’s battery. The vehicle has a range of about 400km on a full charge and includes features such as regenerative braking.