Stellenbosch to play host to electric minibus taxi trial

About 70% of South African commuters rely on minibus taxis like the one pictured above from Toyota to get around

Stellenbosch will play host to a planned trial of the feasibility of introducing electric minibus commuter taxis in South Africa.

Various companies and research institutions announced a partnership agreement on Thursday to “investigate and advance the feasibility of an electric minibus taxi in South African conditions by testing production vehicles in 2023”.

The project team is made up of GoMetro, MiX Telematics, HSW, ACDC Dynamics and various entities within Stellenbosch University’s faculty of engineering. Together, the parties will conduct “rigorous and extensive testing in and around Stellenbosch, as well as putting the electrification of the minibus taxi sector firmly on the national agenda by means of an educational roadshow in all nine provinces in the course of 2023”.

In a statement, the project’s backers said several viable electric minibus taxi models from markets around the world have been identified, the first of which will be in South Africa by year-end. “The acceptance and practicality of the model will be extensively tested with taxi owners and drivers to identify the use cases and conditions where an electric taxi would make the most sense.”

“Taxi drivers and owners are very interested and intrigued by the idea of an electric minibus taxi, and are constantly asking us when the first electric minibus taxi will arrive on our shores,” said GoMetro CEO Justin Coetzee in the statement.

Prof Thinus Booysen, research chair in the internet of things at Stellenbosch University, will lead the team of testing experts.

News of the project comes after SA Taxi, a subsidiary of JSE-listed Transaction Capital and a major player in South Africa’s minibus taxi industry, said it planned to trial electric taxis in the country.

Will take time

However, SA Taxi CEO Terry Kier said that any shift away from taxis that use fossil fuels would be a “medium- to long-term project”.

“There is a great deal of interest in electric vehicles, particularly their ability to transform public transport. However, we need to balance this excitement against the complexities our unique South African context presents to the viability of this mode of transport,” Kier said.

SA Taxi finances taxi drivers and taxi entrepreneurs who operate minibus taxis and who may not otherwise have access to credit from traditional banks.  – © 2022 NewsCentral Media