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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
TappCar is a local company in the app-dispatched taxi business (like Uber, except TappCar operates legally), and they have just announced that they will be putting a fleet of BYD e6 battery-electric cars into service.

info sheet
e6 brochure

Ride-sharing company TappCar unveils electric fleet in Edmonton
TappCar partners with Edmonton airport to bring in fleet of pure-electric vehicles
TappCar to roll out electric vehicle fleet, and include carpool services

This is strange for Alberta, where weather doesn't favour EVs and there is no government subsidy of their purchase. There is also little renewable energy, so these will be indirectly coal and natural gas powered. The Chinese vehicle is also an obscure choice, but makes some sense given the high battery capacity (80 kWh) and corresponding range, and the useful body configuration.

In taxi service, they will be pushing the range, unlike many private owners who have no need to. It should be interesting to see how they perform. As taxis they will idle a lot, and with an emphasis on service to the airport (which is about 30 kilometres from downtown), they will have substantial highway time.

An interesting specification of the e6 is that it has an 80 kWh iron-phosphate (LiFePO4) battery. As cars are wrecked, some of these will presumably appear in the salvage parts market... potentially to go into DIY EVs. ;)
 

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Makes perfect sense for a fleet car. They will doubtless put charging stations at the airport, and they will also doubtless have a "car swap" site near the airport in the event a single driver keeps to busy in a day to keep the vehicle topped off.

The argument that not using renewables negates the "green-ness" of the vehicle is silly - Canada is not like China burning dirty coal and fuel burned in an electric plant is far more efficiently used than any stand-alone ICE vehicle's use of the same fuel could hope to be.

The bigger question is whether the vehicle truly reduces maintenance costs. There are a couple of videos on youtube which suggest that actual costs are surprisingly high - with examples of several swaps of expensive electric motors and control computers and inverters, etc. While using industrial components might certainly be cheaper over the long run, custom components used in limited production runs may keep prices high.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Makes perfect sense for a fleet car.
Yeah, the BYD is obscure, but suitable for this purpose. The much more common and cheaper Leaf is not as large (for passenger space) and doesn't have as much battery. The Tesla Model X is a suitable size, but much more expensive. The Tesla Model 3 is not available. A Chevrolet Bolt might work well, but GM doesn't have a lot of incentive to push them and BYD aggressively markets to fleets.
 

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Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
They will doubtless put charging stations at the airport, and they will also doubtless have a "car swap" site near the airport in the event a single driver keeps to busy in a day to keep the vehicle topped off.
Sure, charging stations at the airport make sense.

Car swapping is unlikely here. Taxi companies in Alberta are mostly dispatching services, with most vehicles belonging to owner/drivers (who also hire extra drivers to cover addition shifts, or rent their cars to those extra driver); TappCar has so far entirely followed this model - while TappCar drivers display TappCar logos, the drivers own the cars, not TappCar. These EVs will be leased, presumably by TappCar directly from the leasing division of BYD, and probably sublet to the drivers... and drivers are likely individually responsible for their vehicles, not like a vehicle pool. Also, these things cost 60,000 CAD, so it probably makes more sense to have drivers sitting around idle for a couple extra hours per shift while their cars charge (some of which would have been their break time anyway) at 15 CAD per hour than to have a quarter of the fleet sitting idle while the lease payments keep ticking, just so drivers can swap into them.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
The argument that not using renewables negates the "green-ness" of the vehicle is silly - Canada is not like China burning dirty coal and fuel burned in an electric plant is far more efficiently used than any stand-alone ICE vehicle's use of the same fuel could hope to be.
If the goal is just to use fossil fuels more efficiently (by avoiding idling, optimizing engine operation, and regenerative braking), there's no need for $60,000 EVs... they can just buy use a Prius, like most taxi drivers in cities where gasoline is more expensive than here. Sure, a power plant runs even more efficiently than a Prius engine, but the heat is needed in cars for more than half the year here, and that's free if an engine is running but more fuel burned to power an EV.

More significantly, "green" is mostly a matter of politics and social trends, and in those areas coal has been (at least in North America) thoroughly demonized, so facts don't matter. If EV drivers here admit they're running on coal (and gas) power, their green status is shot. The province has basically banned coal for electrical generation, with a shutdown period for which the clock is already running; with little hydro power and wind already well-developed here, that means a transition to more natural gas... regardless of how clean coal is. And it certainly does seem clean - anyone driving from Edmonton to the Rocky Mountain parks goes right past the coal-fired generating stations, and doesn't even notice them; the plants are directly upwind (in the prevailing wind direction) of Edmonton, and don't seem to affect the local air quality.
 

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Yeah, the BYD is obscure, but suitable for this purpose. The much more common and cheaper Leaf is not as large (for passenger space) and doesn't have as much battery. The Tesla Model X is a suitable size, but much more expensive. The Tesla Model 3 is not available. A Chevrolet Bolt might work well, but GM doesn't have a lot of incentive to push them and BYD aggressively markets to fleets.
Agreed. Taxi needs volume and range, not much else. Be fun if someone brought back the old Checker chassis, perhaps in aluminum for weight.
 

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Sure, charging stations at the airport make sense.

Car swapping is unlikely here. Taxi companies in Alberta are mostly dispatching services, with most vehicles belonging to owner/drivers (who also hire extra drivers to cover addition shifts, or rent their cars to those extra driver); TappCar has so far entirely followed this model - while TappCar drivers display TappCar logos, the drivers own the cars, not TappCar.
Hmmm, using that model for EVs they are going to face multiple challenges. A vehicle is an asset which needs to pay for itself. Vehicles do best when utilized 24/7. 80Kwh is roughly equivalent to only 8 gallons of gas, barely enough even for a long shift let alone 24x7 - especially with resistance heater running in the winter.

These EVs will be leased, presumably by TappCar directly from the leasing division of BYD, and probably sublet to the drivers... and drivers are likely individually responsible for their vehicles, not like a vehicle pool.
Ok so not to be too pessimistic there are advantages there as well. Presuming they find a way to make 80Kwh last for a long shift, cars for which an individual is responsible are liable to be better maintained.

Also, these things cost 60,000 CAD, so it probably makes more sense to have drivers sitting around idle for a couple extra hours per shift while their cars charge (some of which would have been their break time anyway) at 15 CAD per hour than to have a quarter of the fleet sitting idle while the lease payments keep ticking, just so drivers can swap into them.
Back to my original point - if they are using these explicitly for airport use, they could actually install some kind of charging rail system so that while drivers are waiting in queue they are charging. That would be the best way to insure each driver has close to a full "tank" in case a non-standard customer wants to drive from Calgary to Edmonton (about a full tank).
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Hmmm, using that model for EVs they are going to face multiple challenges. A vehicle is an asset which needs to pay for itself. Vehicles do best when utilized 24/7. 80Kwh is roughly equivalent to only 8 gallons of gas, barely enough even for a long shift let alone 24x7 - especially with resistance heater running in the winter.
BYD seems to expect multiple recharges during the day, perhaps taking advantage of any waiting time when there is no customer. There are a lot of taxis in the Edmonton area so they spend much of their day waiting, and TappCar can only take customers through their app - no street pickups or waiting at taxi stands (even at the airport).

With extra drivers, owner/operators do routinely keep their vehicles in service for multiple shifts per day.

Ok so not to be too pessimistic there are advantages there as well. Presuming they find a way to make 80Kwh last for a long shift, cars for which an individual is responsible are liable to be better maintained.
Ideally, yes. :)

Back to my original point - if they are using these explicitly for airport use, they could actually install some kind of charging rail system so that while drivers are waiting in queue they are charging. That would be the best way to insure each driver has close to a full "tank" in case a non-standard customer wants to drive from Calgary to Edmonton (about a full tank).
Although they are promoted in conjunction with the airport (which controls who can pick up there - being a licensed cab is not enough by itself), they will need to operate throughout Edmonton to be viable. I assume that when a TappCar is requested for a trip to the airport any EVs available in the city will get preference; for trips from the airport they would certainly get preference, and may be the only only TappCar units allowed.

They won't in the taxi waiting line - they're not allowed to do that (because TappCars they are not licensed as standard taxis, only as "rideshare" operators), and will pick up in the parkade; I assume they'll have parking spots equipped with charging stations in the parkade.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Agreed. Taxi needs volume and range, not much else. Be fun if someone brought back the old Checker chassis, perhaps in aluminum for weight.
I don't think that's all that functional, but a designed-for-the-purpose taxicab is an attractive idea; they can be very functional. A London Black Cab would be great; they're actually going hybrid (as the LEVC TX), but not 'pure' battery-electric yet.
 

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I don't think that's all that functional, but a designed-for-the-purpose taxicab is an attractive idea; they can be very functional. A London Black Cab would be great; they're actually going hybrid (as the LEVC TX), but not 'pure' battery-electric yet.
Yah, today's batteries are still a bit wanting. Some kind of hybrid is probably the best answer. Lots of solutions for the generator.

5-10 more years will be a whole new world.
 

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Hybrids seem to have taken over the Taxi role in most cities, and the Toyota Camry Hybrid being the preferred option i suspect due to size, proven reliability, and low cost .
As batteries and charging become better, i suspect a longer Electric range version Hybrid or PHEV, will be the progressive route towards full EV taxis.
Im surprised a hybrid MiniVan type vehicle has not been adopted, but i guess the price is just too much
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Hybrids seem to have taken over the Taxi role in most cities, and the Toyota Camry Hybrid being the preferred option i suspect due to size, proven reliability, and low cost .
In Vancouver (British Columbia, Canada) the Prius is the almost universal choice for taxi service. Here in Edmonton, gas prices are lower and most taxis are not even hybrid, but both Prius and Camry are common choices; I talked with one driver and he explained that he chose the Camry because it doesn't use much more fuel than a Prius, and is more comfortable.

Im surprised a hybrid MiniVan type vehicle has not been adopted, but i guess the price is just too much
Another problem is that lack of hybrid minivans. There is now the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid, but speaking of reliability... it's a Chrysler. ;)

New York City's taxi commission put a lot of effort into selecting a standard taxi, and chose a version of the Nissan NV200. This is more like a microvan than a minivan, and this small but tall commercial vehicle format is a logical taxi format... but hybrids in this format are rare, too (with Ford's C-Max arguably being an exception, and a Ford Transit Connect Hybrid being shown as a concept). Unfortunately, NYC's selection took so long that by the time they were done some of the competitors had already become obsolete and they entirely missed the boat on powertrain technology; by the time they went into service, they were almost the taxi of yesterday.

Remember the previous-generation Ford Transit Connect Electric of a decade ago by the infamous and now dead Azure Dynamics? That would have been a good electric taxi... if it had enough range (which it didn't).
 
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