In the European capital estimated to have more bicycles than people, Amsterdam’s zero-emission push is finding a 21st Century foothold: electric taxis. Last November, private company TAXI-E began service of a green fleet of 10 Nissan LEAFs in the city called “The Venice of the North”. Each one of Amsterdam’s 3,000 taxis normally emits up to 35 times more carbon dioxide than a regular car. And that, to TAXI-E founders Ruud Zandvliet and Edvard Hendriksen, signaled a green-field opportunity.
“Funny enough, we saw the Nissan LEAF entering the market and that was, for us, the moment we thought it’s probably possible to start a successful taxi business using electric cars powered on green energy, and we can greenify a traditionally polluting market,” said Zandvliet.
To help TAXI-E expand its fleet to 100 LEAF taxis next year, its most recent project to build 40 standard chargers and four quick chargers will officially go online next month, becoming Europe’s largest charging hub. Amsterdam’s municipal government has also reinstated subsidies, now offering 10,000 euros toward every new electric taxi. Pieter Swinkels, a communication advisor for the Municipality of Amsterdam, said the city’s air pollution is at the root of the government’s plan to make all taxis electric — and TAXI-E is a pioneer in that initiative.
“We don’t own the energy companies as a city. What we can do is stimulate green energy by buying it ourselves, like we do for all the city buildings,” said Swinkels. “We also have all the charging stations within the city use green energy, so everybody who has an electric car charges with green electricity.”
TAXI-E’s partner, Greenchoice, supplies the green fleet with 100% renewable energy. Amsterdam’s government helps to support the use of sustainable energy generated through wind turbines, as well as biomass, hydropower and solar panels. Sustainable business start-ups, such as TAXI-E, are the link between renewables and industry, paving the way for a cleaner future not only in Amsterdam, but throughout Europe. Denis Slieker, Director of Business Development explained why the partnership is a perfect match.
“We also want to help green the economy. We do that by supporting companies and projects that take a role in helping people to actually change their behavior. And that’s what TAXI-E is doing,” said Slieker. “They provide a completely clean energy based taxi service. We as a green energy company, we provide renewable energy. So that is the most perfect match.
TAXI-E’s client roster includes global players like ING, Heineken and TBWA. IBM, recognized for its environmental and sustainable business activities, chose TAXI-E because of what the zero-emission ride speaks about IBM’s own brand. Ad Maaswinkel, Manager of Real Estate & Site Operations for Benelux, also added that the LEAF is simply a great ride.
“Environmental things are important for IBM,” said Maaswinkel. “Now, it’s different components It’s your data centers. It’s your building. But it’s also mobility. Mobility around the building is important. So we try to optimize cars, we try to optimize our relationship with public transportation. And one component is the use of taxis. So in the whole picture of mobility it fits perfectly. And I think our employees like it because it’s like ‘Hey, IBM is doing really what it says.’”
With an eye on becoming the largest EV taxi fleet in Europe, TAXI-E’s Zandvliet said he expects many other cities to copy their clean fleet concept. Zero emissions from well to wheel? It could be the innovative transportation solution to drive the new Dutch golden age.