Ecotaxi for tourists may be launched in Moscow

The initiative has found support in the city government
Share 14 August 2015
Artiom Geodakyan/TASS
Eco-rally in Moscow

News site M24.ru reports that a new ecotaxi geared towards tourists may be launched in Moscow. A Russian company proposed using electric cars as taxi cabs, and the city government has expressed support for the initiative, said Vladimir Chernikov, head of the national policy, interregional relations and tourism.

Electric cars use electric engines, which need to be charged at special facilities: there are currently over a dozen of such recharging stations in Moscow. By the end of the year 150 more car charging stations are to be deployed. One full charge will cost around 250 rubles – however, regular city power grid outlets will suffice as well.

Alla Gromyko, member of the Interpreter Guides, Tour Guides and Tour Managers Association, suggests that eco-taxi will be in high demand among tourists visiting the Russian capital. She said: “Tourists from Germany, Switzerland and all of Europe support such projects. They engage in protecting the environment. Germany already has such a taxi service. China and Japan will also appreciate this innovative idea.”

Bogdan Konoshenko, chairman of Moscow Chamber of Commerce and Industry, also expressed his support for the initiative. He noted: “There is no need to pay for gas and it’s eco-friendly. However, the government needs to incentivize these cars with, for example, duty-free import or waiving a certain tax.” The spokesman added that a ride in an EV is pleasurable as there’s no noise.

Damir Kurmaev, General Director of Taxi-Ritm, doubts the timing of the project is appropriate. He highlighted that a full charge is enough for 280 kilometres, whereas a Moscow taxi cab covers approximately 350 kilometres in one day. Moreover, the full charge distance is relevant only during the warm season. Kurmaev explained: “The battery discharges faster in cold weather, and there’s less daylight. That means that there will be intense use of electric lighting, which also drains the battery faster.” Since client will pay the same fare they pay for regular taxi service, it won’t be profitable for the companies. Kurmaev added: “The cheapest EV costs 6 million rubles. It’s going to take a while to recover this investment.”

Mostaxi electric cars

In 2014, Natalia Sergunina, deputy mayor of Moscow responsible for economic policy, mentioned the possibility of purchasing EVs for Mostaxi, the city owned taxi company. The cars would travel between the city and airports, and between metro stations and train terminals. However, the idea was scrapped due to high costs and low range. Currently Mostaxi is looking into using cabs fueled by gas, instead of petroleum.

Electric car incentives

EVs will be made available to Moscow through car sharing: the idea was recently approved by the authorities. Users will be able to rent an electric car paying either by the minute or by the hour with drop-off points scattered across the city. The government is looking into making dedicated lanes for electric vehicles and waiving transport taxes for their owners. Duty free imports for EVs are already in place: electric cars can be brought to Russia with zero taxes or customs fees.