Yellow cabs twice as green
A petrol or diesel hybrid makes little sense as a private car – economical as it may be, unless you really drive a lot it just won't pay back the purchase price premium over a combustion-engine-only counterpart. Of course, there is also the question of image – driving a hybrid makes you look better, even if it doesn't make the contents of your wallet look better. However, a petrol-electric taxi is a different story altogether.
A taxi, especially one belonging to the cab company and not a driver's private car used also for work, may well be a hybrid. With annual mileages two or three times bigger than private cars usually cover, a hybrid taxi can actually make some reasonable savings over its time of service. However, those savings can be remarkably boosted if the petrol-electric engine setup is enhanced with an LPG system. After conversion, not only does the combustion engine need less fuel, but also that fuel is half the price of petrol.
Australian taxi companies formulated clear criteria for what they needed: locally produced cars (due to universally available service station network) and reliable autogas systems to keep the running costs down, as well as the service and maintenance expenses. Eventually the Toyota Camry and the Sprint Gas SVI were chosen. The combination of the two proves very well matched: car functionality is practically the same (apart from a minor loss in boot capacity) and the pile of savings grows fast. The conversion cost for each vehicle is generally recouped within below 12 months and everything saved beyond that time is pure benefit.
There are approx. 3400 autogas stations across Australia. As we have reported, the LPG sector Down Under faces a challenge, though – all major carmakers (General Motors, producing cars locally under the Holden brand, Ford and Toyota) have announced withdrawal from Australia and closing down of factories by 2017 and the problem is most LPG-powered cars sold in Australia are new ones, produced by those exact companies. Hopefully the autogas industry in Australia will manage to find a way out of this situation, e. g. by setting up authorised, qualified conversion centres for imported cars. After all, passengers of LPG-electric taxis have already got accustomed to their economical and "green” rides and might not want to transfer to other cars...
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