For those familiar with big cities, they are well aware of the ever present taxi sluggishly moving through the streets and making frequent stops. Obviously they generate plenty of gas emissions. Better Place, a leading electric vehicles service provider with the support of the U.S.
Last week electric vehicle services company Better Place demonstrated a fleet of electric taxis that will operate in Tokyo and have batteries that can be replaced in about two minutes. The taxis will utilize Better Place’s battery swapping stations, which today cost around $1 million each for the equipment to automate the process.
Urban taxis are a suitable application for battery swapping because they:
a) Take frequent short trips.
b) Don’t often stray far from a geographic area.
c) Need to be kept on the road for as much of the time as possible.
d) Idle frequently (when stopped, or running the engine in between customers to control the vehicle’s temperature).
While electric vehicles are the most environmentally friendly transportation solution of today, there is one start-up that thinks further ahead. What might sound like a futuristic idea borrowed from a sci-fi movie will soon become reality in some cities.
I’m talking about personal rapid transit, a system somewhere between mass transportation such as metros and buses, and more private transportation such as taxis. The Finnish start-up BM Design has the solution to our transportation needs of tomorrow.
Asko Kauppi, Founder of BM Design and among the several hundred people who invented personal rapid transit, describes it as “packaged routing of people.” The idea itself is nothing new and has its roots in the 1960s and 70s. However, a company still needs to present a viable commercial solution for PRT.
The advantages of personal rapid transit include this: Instead of you waiting for a bus or metro to arrive, the PRT vehicle — a lightweight, battery operated vehicle seating two to three — is waiting for you.
In Cape Town, South Africa, as well as in many U.S. cities, wealthy suburban dwellers choke roads driving into the city, eschewing the public transit that shuttles blue collar workers. The addition of bus and rail lines in the city’s center in anticipation of hosting the 2010 World Cup has city leaders increasing efforts to get people out of their cars and on to public transit.
In Cape Town, most white collar workers drive themselves to work, fearing crime on trains and on the 20-seat shared taxis that shuttle one-third of inner city commuters. Business leaders from the Cape Town Partnership, along with the University of Michigan and Ford, are working with the city’s largest employers to get more of the 400,000 daily commuters moving by alternative modes of transportation by establishing mobility hubs.