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One New York Cabbie Loves His Nissan Leaf Electric Taxi

 
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2013 Nissan Leaf electric car tested as taxi in New York City, April 2013

There can be few tougher tests for a car than as a taxi in New York City.

Tough roads and even tougher traffic makes the city a workout for any vehicle, but one cabby is enjoying the Nissan Leaf he's driving as part of the city's electric vehicle trials.

In fact, driver Uppkar Singh Thind described himself as "over the moon" to the New York Post, as one of just six people picked to drive the electric cab when it was launched back in April.

Thind paid only $1 for the car as part of the trial, which will last just one year before the car goes back to Nissan.

Not everyone gets a Nissan Leaf for $1 of course, but Thind is already discovering the running cost benefits--whether charging at home or paying $7 for the 3.5 hours of driving a charge gets him in New York's summer heat.

Overall, Thind says he pays around $11 a day in electricity, around $4 of which is his overnight charge at home. Compare that to his previous gas costs--around $50--and it's easy to see the appeal. It comfortably offsets the $25 a day less he makes having to turn down trips that may be a little long for the car--"you are limited to how far you can go," he told the Post--and Thind says he earns higher tips from customers.

The electric taxi trial will help the city "answer important questions about incorporating electric taxis into the fleet,so that we can achieve the goal of a one-third electric taxi fleet by 2020,"  NYC mayor Michael Bloomberg told reporters in April.

Several DC fast-charge stations have been installed around the city, allowing Leaf taxi drivers to gain an 80 percent charge in around 30 minutes.

The only issue so far is people around New York not recognizing the silver and gold color scheme as a taxi, though once he has fares on board, "it starts a conversation".

One other issue Thind hasn't come across is the degradation in range experienced by some Leaf cabbies in Japan, though New York's trial may not be long enough to replicate such results.

In the meantime, the electric cab is going down a storm, and proving a hit for cost-conscious cabbies like Thind. It makes New York's roads just a little less polluted and a little less stressful...

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Comments (18)
  1. I don't know why New York didn't go with a Model S. Yes, it is much more expensive, but with the gas savings, it is worth it. The range and battery life is so much better it would be charged at convenience, not when necessary. Think: saving 40 a day is 15000 a year. In a year or two you will need a new Leaf battery, not with the Tesla! The saves make it worth the Tesla in this case.
     
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  2. Something about availability and production schedules and other factors I am sure factored in besides prices.
     
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  3. Just sent an email to SEVERAL people connected to a NYC Mayors race warning them about NISSAN
    http://nissanwhistleblower.blogspot.com/2013/07/is-lamar-alexander-faking-it-when-he.html

    The range is bad... to taxi riders NOT want to get to their destination? Some might be stranded.
     
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  4. @Sharyn: Why are you bashing Nissan Leafs? Are you an owner of a Model S or do you have any EV?
     
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  5. He's lucky he doesn't live in Southern Arizona. He'd be one of those "TINY" few whose battery would go South on him.
     
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  6. You're persistent, I'll give you that.
     
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  7. I just wonder how many times he has to (or would like to) DC fast charge per day. I like the idea of electric taxis, but in Hong Kong, drivers were not unexpectedly complaining that they took too long to charge on L2. I would expect two or three L3 charges per day would be about average.

    He ought to advertise on the outside of the cab that it has a super smooth, quiet and relaxing ride.
     
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  8. I would have liked to know a bit more info on range/charging. How many times a working day does he have to charge on a quick charging station? Say worse case he is getting in 3 to 4 hours per charge on a 10 hour shift. He would have to charge minimum 3 times. Two of those times would be during lunch break and dinner break. the third would eat up 30 minutes of fares. So how much does it cost him to charge up every time. I ask this cause the new cab Nissan Vans will have the same platform (but heavier I would guess) so fewer miles per charge? or will Nissan be squeezing a few more mile with new software?
     
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  9. It's a pity that Better Place didn't try or succeed in launching a large-scale EV taxi trial in NYC - what a showcase for electric vehicles and battery swap that would have been.
    It probably would have cost no more than $10-15 million for 100 cars and the chargers, swap stations, and spare batteries to support them.
     
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  10. This is where induction charging would work really well. Pads placed under taxi rank lines and common pick up locations, would mean short top up charges could be had regularly without driver intervention. (think waiting at train, airports etc).
     
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  11. Although I like the idea of electric cabs and myself own two electric cars (Leaf and Focus), I am surprised that Leaf is being used as taxi. I am not a taxi driver but I imagine they (want to) put many hundred miles on the car per day, which is impractical for Leaf. What I fear is that people will try it and dislike it, due to limited range, which makes it a "failure" in public opinion. The main negative argument for EVs is the limited range and it doesn't help if passengers are denied the ride or are caught with a dead battery first hand.

    Tesla would certainly be a better choice, admittedly at a much higher cost. Why doesn't the company strike a deal with NYC and produce somewhat cheaper versions of the Model S at high volume for them?
     
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  12. "Compare that to his previous gas costs--around $50"

    So, at $4/gallon, he uses 12 gallon per day. @25mpg, he drives about 300 miles per day.

    "he pays around $11 a day in electricity"

    $11 @ $0.15/KWh is 73 KWh or 256 miles.


    So, he drives about 250-300 miles per day. For a Leaf with 80 miles range (city), that is at least 3 full additional charges or at least 4-5 quick DC charging per day or 2.5 to 3 hrs of wait time...
     
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  13. The guy is surely smart enough to start his day with a full charge. Only 3 refills to 80% are then needed to get to a total of 73 usable kW*h.

    That'd be 1.5h of DC quick-charging. Also, it's not like the driver has to attend the vehicle at all those times; he could go eat, etc...

    Far from being perfect yet, agreed, but nowhere near as bad as your initial assessment.
     
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  14. But the worst is that a fare that come and needs to go farther than what is left in the range, what does he do? Refuse the fair and go charge?


    It is NOT an ideal situation. A larger battery would be much better.

    Plus, we haven't even included the winter mode yet...
     
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  15. Also, Nissan is launching this after April where Heat requirement is NO longer a big need, it will help range as well.

    Why doesn't he try the Leaf as a Taxi in the winter between Nov and Feb?
     
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  16. According to the article, the trial is for 2013 Leafs. The 2013 model's heat pump is 2x more efficient than the old resistive heater, and heat is stronger and faster. Not sure if the heat pump can operate in reverse to cool the cockpit as well (to assist the A/C)
     
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  17. Resistive heater is always nearly 100% efficient at all temperature. However, the Heat pump efficiency can vary a lot vs. temperature. When it is extremely cold, the efficiency will be lucky to be about 1.1 to 1.2 I seriously doubt the "2x" number.

    Technically speaking, heat pump can be reversed to work as A/C if designed correctly. Carrying two seperate system would be silly. But the tradeoff is the optimal point. If it works as a good A/C, then the heat pump doesn't do much below 45 degrees...
     
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  18. While we can't rely on electric vehicles alone to break the dangerous, expensive oil monopoly, EVs are an integral part to opening up the fuel market. As technology improves, more EV and hybrid car options will become available to consumers, helping to save money and break away from the pump.
     
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