Friday, August 3, 2012

Electric taxi service-Cowlitz County duo launches excellent services

Ron Knori and Cindy Stephenson are all charged up about their new, all-electric taxicab service in Cowlitz County, one of the first of its kind on the country's only green highway.
Knori, who owns Twin City Paints, and Stephenson, an elementary school teacher, have been operating EcoCab since May. Their current fleet includes two Chevrolet Volts and two Nissan Leafs.
"We're totally a zero emissions company," said Knori, who has a charging station at his Longview home.
Knori and Kelso resident Stephenson are hoping to capitalize on the electric car buzz, which reignited in 2010 when Nissan released the first mass-market gasoline-free car in decades. Although sales of all-electric vehicles have been slow this year, according to industry analysts, the promise of the new technology has spurred developments that may help companies like EcoCab grow.
This summer, Washington state transportation officials finished installing four charging stations on Interstate 5, including one at the Cascade Select Market in Castle Rock. The project is part of the West Coast Electric Highway, a $1.32 million federal plan to Interstate 5 the nation's first "green freeway" from California to Canada.
"I think electric vehicles are here to stay. It's only going to grow," said Tonia Buell, a spokeswoman for the West Coast Electric Highway.
Buell said she's heard of plans to create electric cab fleets at SeaTac International and in San Francisco, but they have not yet launched. Knori said he was told by representatives of Chevrolet, which helped fit the cars for taxi meters, that EcoCab is the first all-electric cab company in the United States. Another company, Electric Cab of Austin, started a taxi service in Texas using electric golf carts in 2008.
Buell added that EcoCab "makes a lot of business sense. And it's a great opportunity for people to try out a ride in an electric vehicle."
EcoCab charges $2.50 for pickups and $2.25 per mile. Unlike other taxi services, EcoCab doesn't need to tack on extra fees for gas, which Knori said are typically two to three dollars per ride. The cab's meter also turns off while the car is idling, which he said can shave a few extra dollars off the price of a ride.
A Volt costs between $40,000 and $48,000, while the Leaf runs between $36,000 and $38,000. Knori said he will receive a $7,500 federal tax credit reserved for all purchases of electric vehicles.
EcoCab operates primarily in Cowlitz County, but its drivers can take customers to Vancouver and the Portland airport. Knori said the Volt can run for about 50 miles before recharging and has a gas generator as a backup while the Leaf can go as far as 110 miles in one trip.
The cab service operates 24 hours a days with seven drivers. Logistically, it's can be a hassle to switch out vehicles for recharging, but Knori and Stephenson said they anticipate more stations will be built as electric cars catch on.
Knori said he bought hybrid vehicles for his painting service, which launched the idea of the all-electric cab service. Stephenson said she wanted to be involved in a business that can both make money and help the environment.
"I always thought if I'm going to do something, if I'm going to invest in something, I want to do it for a purpose," she said.


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HI, just being curious, I have a question. In this instance, are these cars using biodiesel or hydrogen.

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