Cars Taxi is the first private franchise to launch hybrid taxis. It has a fleet of 7,000 taxis worldwide, including the GCC and the Far East as well as India. Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

Dubai: Dubai’s taxi fleet just got greener as Cars Taxi has brought in 28 hybrid vehicles to join the 20 cabs launched last year by the Roads and Transport Authority’s (RTA) Dubai Taxi Corporation. The vehicles were launched on Tuesday.

Cars Taxi is the first private taxi franchise to introduce hybrid taxis and is planning to add 22 more by the end of this year.

“We have a fleet of 7,000 taxis across the world, including in the GCC and the Far East as well as India and always to look adopt the kind of technology that not only improves operational efficiency but is also good for the environment. Our plan is to replace all our taxis with eco-friendly vehicles in the next couple of years,” said Abdullah Sultan Al Sabbagh, Executive Director at Cars Taxi Group.

He said 300 hybrid vehicles would join the taxi fleet in Dubai next year, while there are plans to experiment with different technology.

“We are working with Al-Futtaim and Toyota as well as some other manufacturers to view the availability of technologies that will help improve operational efficiency as well as environmental benefits and we are looking at the plug-in electric taxis as well as CNG [compressed natural gas] as an option,” added Al Sabbagh.

He urged the authorities to make CNG more readily available across the country so that the clean fuel can be used in the taxi fleet.

“We have introduced CNG-powered vehicles in our taxi fleet in Abu Dhabi and we would like to do the same in other emirates as well, but we have struggled to find enough CNG filling stations in most part of the country, if this issue is addressed then we can have more clean vehicles on the roads that will reduce the UAE’s eco-footprint,” said Al Sabbagh.

Best technology

Among the green options, hybrid seems to be the best in terms of its efficiency, its ability to reduce fuel consumption and CO2 emissions.

“Hybrid is the best technology for taxis as they run in a stop-start urban environment. The Toyota Hybrid Camry operates through a combination of electricity and gasoline. The engine chooses its fuel depending on speed,” said Alan Carpenter, general manager for sales and marketing at Al-Futtaim Motors.

The vehicle can operate on battery-powered electricity for up to a speed of 40km/h and shifts to gasoline when the speed exceeds 40km/h. The technology can save Dh12,662 per taxi per year.

“The technology is not just eco-friendly but also saves money in maintenance and operation. It charges the batteries when the driver uses the brakes and also when the car is running on gasoline at higher speeds. Our tests have shown that the technology is kind on tyres and brake pads and discs as they have higher durability on hybrid vehicles,” said Al Sabbagh.

The vehicle consumes 33 per cent less fuel and reduces carbon emissions by up to 33 per cent.

Cars Taxi operate a fleet of 1,555 taxis in Dubai in addition 155 Hala Taxis that operate through a booking-only service.