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Has the Tesla Model S Got What it Takes to be a Taxi?

Tesla Model S - Picking Up Passengers Near You?
Tesla Model S – Picking Up Passengers Near You?

With maintenance and refueling costs on the rise, electric vehicles could make sense as taxis, but the limited range of most puts them out of the running. Tesla Model S, on the other hand, could be the perfect replacement taxi.

Part of the problem with electric vehicle [EV] range when used as a taxi is the mileage that a taxi driver puts on a typical twelve-hour shift. In New York, for example, the average taxi driver covers 180 miles in stop and go traffic over twelve hours. If the driver isn’t driving, he’s not making money, so stopping for an hour or two to recharge a short-range EV like the Nissan Leaf or Mitsubishi i-MiEV is out of the question.

The Tesla Model S 85kWh, on the other hand, is rated over 265 miles, which make it a good candidate as a taxi. The real mileage, of course, would be different because regenerative braking only works down to a certain speed before hydraulic braking kicks in and there are other loads on the battery, like air conditioning, entertainment, and lighting. Battery capacity should still be enough to cover a full day’s driving. Maintenance costs should be much lower than for conventional vehicles.

Taxi companies are giving the Tesla Model S a test run as a taxi. In Boston, for instance, the smartphone app car service Uber had a few Tesla EVs on their routes. You couldn’t request one, but if one of them happened to be near you when you requested a pickup, you got picked up in a shiny black Tesla Model S and a free pair of sneakers in honor of the Boston Marathon. [pretty neat easter egg!] Sadly, this Uber promotion is over, but Tesla Model S is still on the roster.

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  1. The Model S will easily exceed daily mileage requirements.  The EPA 265 range includes highway driving, which drains batteries MUCH faster than city driving.  City driving alone will result in MUCH GREATER range for Model S, probably >300+ miles.

    • @rd2 I think it depends on how well the regenerative braking works. With an average daily speed of just 15mph [180mi/12hrs] and not including idle time, could it be too slow for regenerative braking? There’s always losses in the system, otherwise you would never have to charge again, because you would recover all the energy on deceleration that you spent on acceleration.


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