If this keeps up, Tesla might have to start thinking about fleet sales. A Madison, Wisconsin-based cab company is converting its fleet of 45 Toyota Prius hybrids over to 40 Tesla Model 3 sedans by early next year.
Green Cab of Madison launched in 2010 with an all-hybrid fleet of cabs. However, nine years later, its preparing to make the jump to the battery-electric Teslas in partnership with a local startup firm, Zerology.
To be clear, this is not the start of Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s grand plan to introduce a fleet of “robo-taxis” comprised of off-lease Model 3 sedans. The leaders of this new partnership, Green Cab co-founder Jody Schmidt and Zerology founder Shree Kalluri plan to have drivers behind the wheel for at least another five to 10 years.
And at least one of those drivers appears to be pretty excited about the conversion from Priuses to Model 3s. “I don’t have to pay for gas anymore,” said Green Cab driver Marcus Patterson, who says the move will save him $250 monthly, adding, “I got a sports car to drive.”
Green Cab won’t be the first outfit to use Model 3 sedans as taxis. Columbus Yellow Cab announced earlier this year it was purchasing 10 Teslas as part of its ultimate plan to electrify its fleet of 170 vehicles.
Tesla’s vehicles are becoming particularly popular with taxis in the Netherlands, Sweden, and Norway. In fact, Amsterdam runs a fleet of 100 Tesla Model S cabs now.
In Green Cab’s case, it partnered with Zerology, a ride-sharing company to create a fleet of accessible zero-emission vehicles that a mix of traditional cabs and ride-sharing vehicles, a la Uber or Lyft. The $5 million project is part of Zerology founder Shree Kalluri’s goal of making Madison a cleaner city using shared-use EVs, according to the Wisconsin State-Journal.
Kalluri hopes to reduce the city’s greenhouse gas emissions by 25% during the next five years. He wants to make Madison “the most sustainable city” in the world. “We want to put Madison on the map and show everybody how it is done,” said Kalluri at a public event Wednesday, the newspaper reported.
The initial $5 million investment includes the vehicles, charging infrastructure and staff. The cabs will be fully charged overnight and get charged between shifts when needed, Kalluri said. Since the Model 3 can travel more than 300 miles on a charge, and the cabs don’t typically travel that far, midday top offs seem unlikely.
Zerology plans to install a 600-kilowatt solar array at Green Cab’s garage to cover the daytime charging and offset the nighttime electricity use. Since much of Wisconsin’s electricity is generated by coal-burning plants, this will help offset the impact of that as well.
The partnership plans to use technology to improve its efficiency – and further lower its environmental impact. Using the Model 3’s collected data, the shorter, quicker routes can be mapped, which helps to cut down on wasted trips.
The new partnership isn’t limiting itself to just Teslas for its all-electric fleet. Kalluri told the State-Journal he’d like to add Tesla competitor Rivian’s battery-electric trucks and sport-utility vehicles to the fleet as well as larger shuttle buses that could be merged into Madison’s public transportation system.