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The first Flemish fully electric taxis take the streets from today in Antwerp

The GTL (Belgian taxi operator association) has launched a study which should help to better analyze the constraints and the opportunities of the transition to an electric fleet.

Antwerp - "All taxis to be electric in 2020…" This is the vision coming out of the study launched by GTL and the Flemish Inter-environmental Federation Bond Beter Leefmilieu (BBL), aiming at identifying the constraints and opportunities of the transition to an electric fleet. The analysis is made of a very realistic part, since then Antwerp taxi company DTM has purchased 2 electric taxis, which will help studying the practical side of it, and of a more theoretical part, which will take into account the concerns and constraints at the level of the sector as a whole. The aim is to extend the study to the whole of Flanders from the fall of this year. The project brings together from one side the operators and their representatives, i.e. GTL and DTM and on the other side a group of scientists, from the MOBI Research Centre of the Flemish University of Brussels (VUB) and the consultancy The New Drive (TND). The project is made possible thanks to the financial support of IFDD, the Federal Institute for Sustainable Development.

“Can we say that all taxis will be electric in 2020?”

"Belgium is obliged to improve the air quality in order to comply with the international standards in the area of emissions of particulates and NOx. Cars play a decisive role since they are at the origin of a significant share of harmful emissions, which represent a significant damage to the environment. And it cannot be hidden: a part of these emissions also comes from the taxi sector, with its 7.888 vehicles on our Belgian roads", declares Jonathan Lambregs of Bond Beter Leefmilieu.

The taxi sector, which is well aware of the environmental issues, has forged a partnership with the Flemish branch of the Bond Beter Leefmilieu in order to launch this project for electric taxis. A project should allow the identification of the conditions for evolving, in a realistic way, toward a fleet of electric taxis in Flanders on the horizon... 2020. The study should also allow to measure the economic and environmental consequences if this ambition is to be achieved.

“Taxis are an essential part of mobility, circulating constantly. However, this also means that they produce emissions. Our sector makes the ideal testing ground for new technologies. We all know that several European cities have already instituted a low-emissions zones and this will soon be also the case of some Belgian cities. The taxis have an interest to be prepared to it from today. If Brussels has already 50 electric taxis, none of this kind circulates in Flanders to this day. Thanks to the operators who agree to participate in the project, we will be an example for the whole of society by playing a pioneering role in this Green Revolution in Flanders. Governments have a full interest to help us since the electric taxis represent a good investment if there is a will to improve the air in our cities", says Pierre Steenberghen from GTL.

“The taxi sector will benefit from taking long-term sustainable choices and investments”

The DTM Society of Antwerp plays the pioneering role in Flanders since it puts into service two new electric cars Mercedes, Class B - Electric Drive. The use of these vehicles should lead to the identification of the practical obstacles on the ground, and especially of the necessary conditions and measures to be able to operate in an efficient manner the taxi services with this type of cars. "The project corresponds to our philosophy on Corporate Social Responsibility. Our two electric cars are only a first step toward a 100% electric mobility. They will display numbers 1 and 2 as car numbers, it is a symbol! We are pleased to be the leaders of the movement and hope that the sector will follow. All together, we can make the difference," declares Steve Van Avermaet of the taxi company DTM of Antwerp.

“Towards sustainable mobility, even beyond the taxi sector?”

“The shared electric mobility plays a crucial role in the energy transition and the taxi sector is an important actor. Our goal with the pilot is to improve the image of electric cars at the Belgian population level. A short ride in an electric taxi might help to break down the barriers. This will help us to see the electric cars as the most normal thing in the world ", concludes Jonathan Lambregs of BBL.

“Are there incentives active or foreseen by the government for the adoption of electric taxis in Flanders?”

“Not yet in Belgium.” states Pierre Steenberghen of GTL. In fact, the study should allow to identify the barriers (bottlenecks) for the use of electrical taxis in Flanders and therefore it presents itself as preparatory to identify the necessary questions and issues preliminary to the uptake of electri taxis in Flanders: “Should there be subsidies to get there?”, “What infrastructure (recharge, parking lots,..) are requested?”, “Which is the law framework we have to move within and does it need to be modified? And how?” Etc…

“A complete fleet of electric taxis in Flanders by 2020. What are the plans for the replacement of the taxis?”

In the words of Mr Steenberghen “We do not believe that it is realistic today, in the current conditions, to foresee a complete replacement of the actual fleet of taxis with electric vehicles only since, for the time being, the costs of acquisition of vehicles are still too high and the infrastructure is still inadequate (availability of recharging batteries and of places for recharge, parking lots adapted for taxis etc.). In October of this year, the results of the study should allow for the formulation of recommendations to the Flemish and Federal authorities about how to remove the barriers and stimulate enterprises to invest in electric vehicles. If the appropriate conditions are put in place, we will be able to organize a gradual transformation of the fleet to (new) electric vehicles. Nevertheless, for achieving this, of course significant efforts are expected from the government to facilitate this transition.”

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