A consortium of business groups and researchers have announced plans to test electric mini-bus taxis in South Africa from 2023.
The pilot project will initially begin in and around the Stellenbosch, with plans to expand the project into an educational roadshow in all nine provinces in the course of 2023
The project team consists of GoMetro, MiX Telematics, HSW, ACDC Dynamics, and various entities within Stellenbosch University’s (SU) Faculty of Engineering, as well as SU’s Centre for Renewable and Sustainable Energy Studies (CRSES).
A number of viable electric minibus taxi models from various markets have been identified, the first of which will be on South African shores by the end of the year, the group said.
The acceptance and practicality of the model will be extensively tested with taxi owners and drivers, to identify the use-cases and conditions where an electric taxi would make the most sense.
“Taxi drivers and owners are very interested and intrigued by the idea of an electric minibus taxi, and are constantly asking us when the first electric minibus taxi will arrive on our shores,” said Justin Coetzee, GoMetro chief executive.
“We have built valuable relationships with a large number of taxi associations, and the ever-increasing fuel price is a massive concern among owners, drivers and riders alike, as there does not seem to be any relief in sight. The industry has long acknowledged that business as usual will not suffice – and that change is required, especially after the effects of Covid-19.”
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.
In addition to testing the vehicle itself, the project team wants to engage with the automotive sector and policymakers to encourage proactive discussions with the government around the reduction of duties and the promotion of the adoption of electric vehicles in the transport sector.
Dr Bernard Bekker, associate director of Stellenbosch University’s Centre for Renewable and Sustainable Energy Studies (CRSES), said the future electrification of the transport section in South Africa raises significant technical and regulatory challenges related to integrating electric transport into our existing grid infrastructure.
These challenges are in many ways unique to South Africa, where minibus taxis will potentially represent a much larger proportion of the future electrical fleet than for example Europe or the USA.
“The availability of a real-life electric minibus taxi to inform our research activities will provide very valuable inputs into addressing these challenges.”
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