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Volkswagen – Hamburg pioneers and the ID.4 taxi

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Clad in bright ivory, they zoom through Hamburg, almost silent as they go about their business. They attract attention in the urban landscape and their numbers are increasing: the new electric taxis. The majority have the ID.401 nameplate at the rear.

A glimpse of the movement of tomorrow? – It is already tangible in Hamburg. The Free and Hanseatic City is systematically bringing electric mobility to the streets and is leading the way as a nationwide pioneer. With the “Future Taxi” project, an incentive scheme devised as part of Hamburg’s climate plan, taxi operators are given start-up support for making the switch to electric drive.

“In Hamburg, taxis are included as part of the public transport system and are evaluated as such in politics and administration, as well as in the public eye,” explained the man behind the Future Taxi project, Dirk Ritter, from the ministry for transport and mobility revolution (BVM), office of administration and law, transport industry. “Over the years we have developed visions of the future together. And an important point was understanding taxis as a fundamental part of the mobility revolution, with which electrification and local zero emissions of powertrains are inextricably linked.”01On the road with the ID.4 taxi in Hamburg“The queen is the only other person to drive as quietly” 

The programme helps Hamburg taxi operators to license an electric car: with up to 10,000 euros each over two years, or 20,000 euros for a wheelchair-accessible inclusive taxi. Available for 130 and 20 cars respectively in April 2021, the grant applications were all awarded within a matter of days. In the second stage, a further 170 taxis and 30 inclusive taxis will each be funded with 5,000 euros and 10,000 euros respectively as of October 2021.

“The phones were constantly off the hook”

The Future Taxi project is also making an impact on providers of taxi vehicles. Like at the taxi centre of Volkswagen Automobile Hamburg, Volkswagen AG’s principal taxi establishment. Here, the new ID.4 taxi, currently being inspected on the lifting ramp, immediately catches the eye.

Hamburg pioneers and the ID.4 taxi

Martin Voß, Taxis Team Manager at the Hamburg-Fuhlsbüttel location and in the taxi business for more than 30 years, knows what he is talking about as he nods appreciatively in the direction of the ID.4 and says that the newcomer in the taxi fleet is a real winner: “The Future Taxi project had barely started when things took off here. The phones were constantly off the hook and in the space of two months we sold as many taxis as we usually sell in half a year.” And that was despite a considerable drop in taxi business as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Electrifying pioneering work

Even before the incentive scheme was launched, the taxi centre was working on a suitable vehicle in the Volkswagen ID. family. This was inspired by Felix Brandt, project manager at Reuss Funkservice, a long-standing partner, at the start of the year. The Hamburg-based business has been converting cars to taxis for more than 40 years.

Hamburg pioneers and the ID.4 taxi

Felix Brandt used the coronavirus period to investigate new areas. “I focussed more intensely on electric mobility and looked at how well prepared the electric scene is for taxis. There wasn’t much on the market.“

“So I came up with the idea of setting up the Volkswagen ID.3 as a taxi,” said Felix Brandt.

Hamburg pioneers and the ID.4 taxi

“So, we sat down with Martin Voß and kicked off a joint project.”

Hamburg pioneers and the ID.4 taxi

While work was being done on an electric taxi based on the ID.302, Volkswagen launched a new model that was an even better fit:

An SUV with the right shape, easy access and a lot of space – when the ID.4 was launched, we knew it was our perfect taxi!

Martin VoßTaxis Team Manager, Volkswagen Automobile Hamburg.Share quoteHamburg pioneers and the ID.4 taxi

Reuss developed an electric taxi prototype, modifying it continuously – Brandt and his colleagues were now working intensively with the ID.4.

In pole position with the ID.4

When the lights finally went green for the Future Taxi project on 1 April, Volkswagen Automobile Hamburg and Reuss Funkservice were in pole position – and were the only ones able to offer a Volkswagen as an electric taxi in Germany.

Then things really got going: thanks to “Future Taxi”, Martin Voß and his two sales assistants had their hands full in the ensuing weeks. And it was the same at Reuss Funkservice. Converting more than 80 Volkswagens to electric taxis in five months was more than Brandt and his colleagues had bargained for. The demand and positive feedback from taxi operators confirms that their idea was spot on.

“By mid-September we had sold a total of 95 ID.4 taxis. And 83 of these were via the incentive scheme, we were able to exceed the number of deliveries promised in advance,” said Martin Voß. “I think that electric mobility makes total sense in urban areas, no doubt it will be the model of the future in public passenger transport. It’s fantastic that we helped shape the beginning with the ID.4 taxi.”Hamburg pioneers and the ID.4 taxi01Teamwork for the full package: Ali Eyüpoglu and Martin Voß of Automobile Hamburg (left), Felix Brandt of Reuss Funkservice (right), together with Jan Grupe, one of the very first ID.4 taxi customers. The Future Taxi brochure contains information on the Volkswagen electric taxi.

On the right track

Hamburg pioneers and the ID.4 taxi01Electric first: Hamburg airport has an exclusive rapid charger for electric taxis. And as of recently, they are allowed to “jump the queue”: only electric taxis are allowed to use the first two taxi stands outside each of the terminals.In collaboration with several partners, the city of Hamburg set up the Future Taxi project – and the joint success is plain to see. The objective is to obtain a 10 percent share of the Hamburg taxi fleet, meaning around 300 electric taxis, by the end of 2022. And work is also underway to set up an adequate infrastructure in Hamburg: the around 1,300 charging stations currently available will be added to, with exclusive double rapid chargers for the electric taxis being set up as of October.

The feedback from taxi operators has been overwhelmingly positive, but some sections of the taxi industry still need a little convincing. “But in my opinion, there is no alternative, because awareness is increasing among passengers and they will make a choice,” said Dirk Ritter from the ministry for transport and mobility revolution. The electric taxis can already be booked specifically using many platforms. Ritter, the initiator:

The Future Taxi project is about safeguarding the sustainability of the taxi industry. Taxis are part of the mobility revolution and are assuming responsibility for social climate targets.

Dirk RitterMinistry for transport and mobility revolution (BVM)Share quoteHamburg pioneers and the ID.4 taxi01The overall figures look good for the ID.4 taxi: at the end of September, the ID.4 account for around 90 percent of all electric taxis already out and about in Hamburg.

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