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SA’s first electric minibus taxis could hit the roads next year

GoMetro said a number of viable electric minibus taxi models from various markets have already been identified for testing. File Picture: African News Agency(ANA)

GoMetro said a number of viable electric minibus taxi models from various markets have already been identified for testing. File Picture: African News Agency(ANA)

Published Jun 10, 2022

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Cape Town - The rising cost of fuel and commuter unhappiness has spurred a project team of companies and research institutions, including GoMetro and Stellenbosch University (SU), to begin a research partnership to investigate and advance the feasibility of an electric minibus taxi for South Africa.

GoMetro, a Cape Town-based mobility management technology company, has been collecting data on taxi operations across South Africa for the last five years to launch a demonstrator project to test the first electric minibus in South African conditions by January 2023.

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GoMetro said a number of viable electric minibus taxi models from various markets have already been identified for testing and the first viable model would be on South African shores by the end of the year.

The project team consisted of GoMetro, SU’s Faculty of Engineering, MiX Telematics, HSW, and ACDC Dynamics, which would conduct rigorous and extensive testing in and around the town of Stellenbosch, as well as put the electrification of the minibus taxi sector firmly on the national agenda through an educational roadshow in all nine provinces in 2023.

GoMetro CEO Justin Coetzee said: “The aim of testing different models over the coming months is to establish which vehicle will be best suited to the South African public transport industry, and what spectrum of operations are conducive to the range capabilities of the vehicles,” Coetzee said.

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Coetzee said they built valuable relationships with a large number of taxi associations, and the ever-increasing fuel price was a massive concern among owners, drivers and riders alike.

“The industry has long acknowledged that business as usual will not suffice and that change is required,” Coetzee said.

SU electrical and electronic engineering Professor Thinus Booysen and his team of researchers have already done quite extensive work on minibus taxis powered by solar installations at stops and would be incorporating this work into the new project.

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“With this project we aim to understand exactly what the energy requirements of these vehicles are in our own unique environment, and to fully understand to what extent their energy demands can be serviced by renewable energy and battery storage,” Booysen said.

Booysen said part of what they hoped to understand was the infrastructure requirements for taxi ranks, and the performance of these vehicles when being discharged and charged repeatedly, and to see if the vehicles could achieve the claimed ranges with the stop-start nature of taxis.

Once a viable taxi model was identified, Booysen said the next steps would be to establish local production of vehicles and ensure that no vehicle manufacturing jobs were lost.

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HSW managing director Ryan Web said: “The Western Cape has all the technical skills and resources to set up manufacturing facilities in support of such an initiative. There are already existing Electronic Manufacturers who have world-class capabilities in the manufacture of electronic products.”

GoMetro said a number of viable electric minibus taxi models from various markets have already been identified for testing.

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Cape Argus

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