IDAHO FALLS, Idaho - The Idaho National Laboratory and the Big Apple are working together to find out if New York City can replace a third of its taxi vehicles with battery electric cars. The city has about 40,000 taxis and six of them are Nissan leaf battery electric vehicles. It's all part of a pilot program started by the city's taxi and limousine commission.
"The Idaho's national lab role is to get data from the taxi and limousine commission, Nissan, and from the different charging companies that will charge the vehicles. We'll look at that and ask are the cars going to be suitable," said INL's lead researcher for the program, Jim Francfort.
His team looks at the vehicles in the field collecting data about how fast they go and how they charge.
"So you can see where the power is going, as we go forward it shows the energy going from the battery pack to the motor," Francfort said.
After looking at the data, his team will show their findings to the taxi and limousine commission. They will also look at where vehicle chargers should be placed throughout the city. Currently, New York City has six chargers that were donated by the INL.
"So during the day when there's a break, the taxi can charge and put about 50 percent back in the battery," he said.
After a year of testing, the city will decide how to make a smooth transition from gas to electric taxis by 2020. The INL said an all-electric taxi fleet can lower CO2 emissions by nearly 90,000 tons a year. Taxi operators would also spend less on gas and maintenance.