January 19, 2017 9:00pmLauren Novak
ADELAIDE’S taxi and hire-car fleet could become lean and green as the State Government pushes for more hybrid and electric vehicles to ferry passengers around the city.
Taxi companies have usually bought ex-government fleet cars, many of which have been Holden Commodores.
However, as the state prepares for the closure of Holden’s Elizabeth car plant, the State Government has set a target to increase the proportion of low-emission vehicles in its fleet to 30 per cent.
It believes this will have a flow-on effect in sales of used hybrid or electric cars to the taxi industry.
Meanwhile, a new chauffeur car company is considering entering the SA market and would use only electric vehicles from its base in Tonsley.
The Government recently added Tesla electric cars to the list of those able to be used as chauffeur vehicles in SA.
This is despite sales of electric cars almost coming to a halt in Australia after more than five years of experimental models. Official sales figures released this week show just 219 electric cars were sold last year, or just 0.0018 per cent of the total market – a staggering drop of 90 per cent from the previous year.
The Government has also called for the removal of a federal tax on luxury cars, which it says would make some electric vehicles more affordable.
A wide-ranging review of the taxi and hire car industry, released last April, recommended establishing a “green taxi initiative”, which could include rebranding specific cars as “green” cabs if they used technologies such as turning the engine off when stationary.
The review also canvassed other technologies, such as upgrading CCTV cameras in cabs to enable audio recording. The Queensland and West Australian governments have mandated audio recording in taxis.
Other changes aim to improve passengers’ experience.
The Government had been considering preventing taxi companies from requiring passengers to give their destination when booking a driver.
The review said this would “reduce the amount of times passengers are left waiting for a taxi that does not arrive as it is perceived to be a short fare”.
The Government could regulate to impose the policy but has decided against official changes as some cab companies have already removed the destination requirement.
Another review recommendation called for all taxis and chauffeur or ride-share vehicles to feature a barcode, which interstate or foreign passengers could scan with a mobile phone to get up-to-date tourism information and details of events around Adelaide.
The SA Tourism Commission says it is working to provide materials and information to drivers to help them better promote SA tourist attractions.