Saturday, April 26, 2008

Taxi? ... taxi? .. TAXI !!!!

Here we go - the real world, dollars and cents, non tree-hugger benefits of new energy are beginning to appear in Manhattan. NYT reports taxi owners and drivers on the cusp of calling the Ford Escape Hybrid a superior financial vehicle, so to speak.

It's not a clear slam dunk due to current lease cost differences and evolving maintenance cost factors such as battery pack replacement frequency and costs and marginally higher costs for some parts. But if the anecdotal evidence in this article is correct, it appears they may have reached break even with gas at $3.00 and may be moving into clear increases in profitability at $3.50 and above.

I remember thinking a while ago that this is where we'd see it first. In the non-stop, stop and go daily grind of urban taxi companies, where hybrids' regenerative braking gains and low fuel burn in traffic would give them a big advantage. Acquisition and maintenance costs are the downside, while ever rising gas prices create the upside. Next steps are maturation of gas hybrids and the appearance on the NY Taxi test track of plug-in hybrids and full electrics.