A consortium of business groups and researchers has announced plans to test electric mini-taxis in South Africa starting in 2023.
The pilot project will initially begin in and around Stellenbosch, with plans to expand the project into an educational roadshow across all nine provinces over the course of 2023.
The project team consists of GoMetro, MiX Telematics, HSW, ACDC Dynamics and various entities within the Engineering Faculty of Stellenbosch University (SU), as well as the SU Center for Renewable and Sustainable Energy Studies (CRSES).
A number of viable electric minibus taxi models have been identified from various markets, the first of which will be on the South African coast later this year, the group said.
The acceptance and practicality of the model will be extensively tested with taxi owners and drivers, to identify use cases and conditions under which 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, CEO of GoMetro.
“We have built valuable relationships with a large number of taxi associations and the ever-increasing price of fuel is a huge concern among owners, drivers and motorcyclists, as there doesn’t seem to be any relief in sight. The industry has long recognized that business as usual will not be enough and that change is needed, especially after the effects of Covid-19 “.
The goal of testing several models over the next few months is to establish which vehicle will be best suited to the South African public transport industry and which spectrum of operations is conducive to vehicle range capabilities.
In addition to testing the vehicle itself, the project team wants to engage with the automotive industry and policy makers to encourage proactive discussions with the government on reducing tariffs and promoting the adoption of electric vehicles in the transportation sector.
Dr Bernard Bekker, associate director of Stellenbosch University’s Center for Renewable and Sustainable Energy Studies (CRSES), said the future electrification of the transportation section in South Africa raises significant technical and regulatory challenges related to integrating electric transportation into our existing network infrastructure.
These challenges are in many ways unique in South Africa, where minibus taxis will potentially represent a much larger percentage of the future electric fleet than, for example, Europe or the United States.
“The availability of a real-life electric minibus taxi to inform our research activities will provide very valuable input to address these challenges.”