While the pandemic has made the financial situation of taxi drivers in the province more precarious, many of them cannot afford an electric vehicle to replace their old car. A situation that worries a company in the sector, which fears a “decline” in the electrification of this industry.
In 2019, the Quebec company E-Taxi received a first shipment of 25 electric vehicles from the Chinese manufacturer BYD. The company then wanted import 2000 more over the next two years. However, the pandemic has so far prevented it from expanding its fleet of electric vehicles, which mainly run in Montreal and on the South Shore.
Meanwhile, taxi drivers are hit hard by the pandemic, which has reduced their income in addition to increasing their expenses related in particular to the disinfection of their vehicles and the installation of protective windows inside them. this. Thus, when the time comes to replace their obsolete vehicle, many drivers do not have the financial capacity to purchase an electric car, notes the co-founder of the E-Taxi company, Yung Cuong, in an interview with Metro. These drivers then turn to used gasoline vehicles.
“We were moving slowly before the pandemic [dans l’électrification des taxis], but now we’re going ten steps back. We have to be proactive, otherwise we will go back to zero, ”says Mr. Cuong, whose company had submitted an offer to buy Taxelco, which ultimately fell into the hands of businessman Pierre Karl. Péladeau, in 2019.
The Quebec government has set itself the goal of having 1.5 million electric vehicles on the province’s roads by 2030 in order to fight climate change. About 92,000 were reported at the end of 2020.
Financial support requested
The joint stock company Placements Saint-Jérôme, headed by Mr. Péladeau, has also entered several mandates in the lobbyists register since it bought Taxelco, which notably owns Téo Taxi. These steps aim in particular to demand from Quebec “new incentives for the electrification of vehicles” intended to become taxis, such as additional “subsidies” for the acquisition of this type of vehicle.
Currently, Quebec offers an incentive for the purchase of a new electric vehicle up to $ 8,000, to which is added special assistance for the modernization of a taxi which also amounts to $ 8,000. This means that a taxi driver can get a rebate of $ 16,000 if he buys an electric car for commercial purposes.
Not all players in the taxi industry have access to this additional financial assistance, confirms to Metro the cabinet of the Minister of Transport, François Bonnardel.
“Placements Saint-Jérôme made representations in order to benefit from the Support Program for the Modernization of the Taxi Transport Industry to which it did not have access, as is the case for other industry players. . Their requests are currently being analyzed, ”says his spokesperson, Florence Plourde. The program in question is also under “review”, she says.
At the time of this writing, Placements Saint-Jérôme had not commented.
“If there is no financing, there is no acquisition [de véhicules électriques] by the drivers. We turn arround.” -Yung Cuong, co-founder of the E-Taxi company
Yung Cuong observes for his part that many taxi drivers are struggling to convince banks to lend them the necessary sum to purchase an electric vehicle that meets their needs. BYD’s e6 model, which has a range of 400 kilometers per charge, costs around $ 60,000. Thus, despite Quebec’s financial incentive to purchase such a vehicle, many taxi drivers do not have the means to pay the rest of the bill, he notes.
“Income is low and credit scores are very low [pour les chauffeurs]“, Recalls Mr. Cuong. It then becomes difficult for them to borrow large amounts from a financial institution.
“You have a program [d’aide à l’achat d’un véhicule électrique], but no one is going to look for it. It is the rest of the amount that is missing ”, he adds.
The co-founder of E-Taxi therefore asks Quebec, not to offer additional subsidies, but rather loans to drivers who want to get an electric vehicle, but who do not succeed in convincing their bank to support them in this process. .
Mr. Cuong also believes urge the City of Montreal to lead by example by electrifying its fleet of vehicles. A measure that should also apply to taxi drivers who offer paratransit services for the Société de transport de Montréal, he believes.