MONTEVIDEO – Four electric cars have been incorporated for the first time into this capital’s taxi fleet, part of the Uruguayan government’s efforts to promote renewable energies.
The transportation sector accounts for 29 percent of the country’s energy consumption, Industry, Energy and Mining Minister Carolina Cosse said, adding that studies by her portfolio indicate that by 2030 40 percent of the public-transport fleet – and 60 percent of taxis – will be powered by renewable energy sources.
The vehicles, unveiled Friday at an event at the Montevideo provincial government headquarters, have a range of 350 kilometers (217 miles) on a single two-hour charge and do not emit carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas. Their soundless engines also will help improve noise pollution in the city.
The province, most of which is covered by the capital city, plans to issue up to 50 new electric taxi permits.
Their $60,000 cost will be half that of permits for traditional cabs, an incentive that Montevideo Gov. Daniel Martinez said will remain in place until a “significant number” of these vehicles are on the roads.
For its part, the state-owned power company, UTE, will provide a $5,000 credit to taxi drivers who buy the permit, as well as get them connected to the electric grid and install chargers in their homes free of charge.
UTE also plans to build a charging station in the Montevideo metro area so drivers do not need to return home to charge their vehicles.
Besides the environmental benefits, the operating cost of electric vehicles is roughly 15 percent that of a gasoline-driven cars.
Montevideo’s provincial government said the city is joining regional pioneers in the use of electric vehicles for public transport, such as Santiago, Sao Paulo, Bogota and Mexico City.