Clean Taxis

When I traveled around Kathmandu the city was filled with diesel carts that poured black acrid-smelling pollution into the streets. Polluting taxis were banned in 2000.

Kathmandu is one of the most polluted cities in Asia, vehicular emissions accounting for a big share.

Besides posing a health hazard to the public, the growing pollution is also seen as a threat to the tourism industry.

Save the tourists.

I just read about a similar trend finally catching on in other cities such as New York, London and San Francisco. According to the Automotive Insider major innovation in urban taxi technology is just around the corner.

London suffers from severe pollution. Taxis account for 12% of NOX and 24% of particulate matter in central London. In June 2008, Mercedes unveiled the London EVito, a six-seater electric vehicle that is taking the market by storm. Running on a 35w lithium ion (Li-Ion) battery, the EVito runs for 75 miles on a single charge and takes 6 hours to recharge using the UK standard 240v input. It sports anti-lock brakes, electronic stability control and onboard diagnostics. In order to swerve around Blue Bell “kerbs” (curbs), the front-wheel drive EVito utilizes partial rear-wheel drive to achieve its tiny 25-foot turn radius.

That was two years ago and many more are on their way.

In 2013, Volkswagen plans to release its Milano taxi. Using advanced lithium ion (Li-Ion) batteries, the demure, charming Milano has a single broad side-door swerving open to reveal its four spacious seats. It has an electronically-limited speed of 75 mph and 67 continuous horsepower. Nissan plans to unveil its avant-garde Nissan Leaf in 2011, with a 100 mile driving range, while Mitsubishi, Renault, Toyota, Honda, Ford, Chevy and other companies are currently or planning on offering ecological vehicles.

This Milano sounds like the ideal shared commuter car. Hopefully by 2013 some of the usual risks of batteries will be sorted out…or a diesel-hybrid option will be available.

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