Pretoria - The South African taxi industry would be able save on fuel and vehicle maintenance cost if it migrated to electrified taxis, the Smart Mobility Africa conference taking place in the city has heard.
In addition, delegate Manzel Oelofsen said this would result in the slashing of fares for commuters.
Oelofsen said moving to electric taxis would save the industry a lot, give way to cheaper transport costs and maximise potential to increase fleet size for owners.
“Comparing petrol-driven vehicles and electric vehicles, there’s a drastic difference. On a bus you pay R5.20 a kilometre while on an electric bus it’s 34 cents. Maintenance costs are also drastically reduced and you service the vehicle every 80000km and not the conventional 15000km to 20000km.”
He said the service would be easy on the pocket, costing about R250.
“You’ll only service your brakes and tyres because there are no other costs, and that can be brought down to your commuter and worked back to drop the amount they’re being charged and still make a profit.”
But the head of business of the South African National Taxi Council (Santaco), Vuyisile Majola, said the industry was still “so far from having the conversation about electric cars”.
“We still need to get used to technology, not even smart technology, just technology. When you want to fast-track the taxi industry to electric vehicles and other fourth industrial revolution stuff, it’s foreign to us.”
She said the industry was looking to be more involved and tech companies should not isolate themselves.
“We’re looking for co-creation partnerships that won’t drastically change the current operation of the industry but enhance it. We’d be killing ourselves if we were going to talk about electric taxis moving between Soweto and Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital; it’s not going to happen in the next 10 years. We need to be realistic on the picture of the industry.”
Majola said before modernising the taxi industry there had to be a proper understanding of how they operated.
“It was built outside of known prescripts of what a corporate and modernised transport business is, and not understanding the industry will lead to modernising it failing.”
She it was necessary for the industry to modernise and improve in areas around regulation and increasing customer service levels, but it would not happen overnight
She said they had begun pilot projects with AftaRobot, an app that seeks to decrease waiting times for commuters, request taxis and facilitate more trip planning and route mapping, and allows commuters to rate the taxi ride.
“We’re open to partnerships. Don’t just create solutions and come to us and they’re hard to adopt, because it’s not meant for us.
“We’re ready, but that technology has to be built specifically for the taxi industry,” said Majola.