This week photos of a Silver Service Taxi from Queensland were shared on the Tesla Model 3 Australia Facebook Group. As far as we can tell, this looks to be the first actual Tesla taxi in Australia.
There’s also plenty of EV owners like @Model3Uber in Melbourne, use their cars on ride-sharing platforms like Uber, but this one is something different.
This grey, long-range Model 3, looks to be the first actual Taxi. 13 CABS offer a Silver Service tier that is their luxury branding. This is reflected on the car with a matt grey/silver wrap, along with logos on the side, top and rear of the car, while the official taxi number, T57871 is located on the rear doors.
I remember many years ago having a conversation with a Sydney taxi driver about EVs. He said to me, they’ll never replace cars like this (meaning ICE) and he said it so confidently, I had to ask more. He explained that Taxis (those in metro areas at least), run 24/7. When the driver needs a break, their shift ends and the next driver gets in and the car continues to earn income.
At the time Electric Vehicles took around 6+ hours to recharge, but today that’s down to less than an hour to gain an extra 500km+ of range. While this Model 3 isn’t the first EV to become a Taxi in Australia, it is the longest-range EV available in Australia with an estimated range of 620km (NEDC).
Given transport is responsible for such a massive volume of emissions and the average taxi is responsible for, moving Taxi’s to electric vehicles is incredibly important. According to Energy.gov.au, light vehicles, that is cars, 4x4s, SUVs and small commercial vehicles up to 3.5 tonnes, accounting for 10% of Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions. The average emissions intensity for new passenger vehicles sold in Australia is 45% higher than it is in Europe.
As we know Tesla’s don’t come cheap, with the Model 3 Long Range Dual Motor All-Wheel Drive priced at $95,589 driveaway in QLD. The economics are benefited by this being recognised as a premium vehicle and as such would attract a higher tariff than a regular taxi.
Tesla uses the following parameters for their projected fuel savings, however, based on the data provided by the ATO, we see Taxi’s can accumulate as many as 150,000km per year, 10x that of a regular consumer.
Electric vehicles are less expensive to fuel than petrol powered vehicles. The average person drives approximately 15,000 kilometers and spends around $1,800 on petrol per year. In comparison, the cost of electricity to power Model 3 over the same distance is 3 times lower. Over the 5 year average length of car ownership, that’s approximately $5,600 in petrol savings.
We’ve assumed a fuel economy of 7.0 litres per 100 kilometers for a comparable petrol powered car. We’ve also assumed the national average of $0.30 per kilowatt hour for electricity and $1.75 per litre for premium petrol over the next 5 years.
This means the potential savings per year would be closer to $56,000 over a 5 year period. At the theoretical 150k per year, you would have also clocked up 750,000 on the car and at that point you’d be looking for a new engine, transmission or in the case of a Tesla, a new battery.
This use case probably demonstrates better than most, why talk of a million-mile battery is so important to actually transitioning not just some cars, but all uses of cars to electric.
What will be interesting is how this equation changes if Tesla can deliver on their self-driving fleet. While I’m sure the owner will be keen to buy the FSD package and sit at home while the car goes to collect revenue for them, traditionally the Taxi industry has been anti-progress (see Uber protests), particularly in relation to anything that threatens jobs.
Given one of their own is now a member of the future self-driving club, this is certainly one to watch in the future.
Another Facebook member confirmed the car was spotted on Monday at Westfield in Helensvale, QLD. If you’re in the area and see the car, let us know in the comments and if you can hitch a ride, let us know your experience.