There’s been a lot of talk about the Dynamo taxi since it was first heard of in an industry rife with Chinese Whispers. If you listened to some of the doom and gloomers, the Nissan Dynamo was never going to make the market, but the quietly resilient and professional team working on it have certainly delivered.
So where do we start? The basics.
The first all electric taxi is currently built in Coventry by Dynamo Motor Company and based on a Nissan eNV200 Evalia carrying 5 passengers. Its launch expected this month will offer the industry an alternative choice for the first time since the start of the electric revolution back in January 2018.
Like most electric vehicles (EV), the torque is something the industry doesn’t usually experience. Instant powerful acceleration generated from its 109PS drivetrain will see a smooth and, if required, rapid ride for the driver and its passengers. A stiffer suspension to that of the traditional diesel TX4’s, gives the rider that monorail feel as they fly down bus lanes with little more than a faint hum in the background.
The Dynamo is as agile as any other cabs on the market with its turning circle looking much more robust than previous commercial van conversions entering the industry in the past.
The driver has been treated to a more than roomy cabin with all the tools you’d expect from any modern day car. Reverse parking cameras, DAB radio and climate control all as standard. Whilst some could argue that the driver’s cabin does give off a basic feel reaching back to its van heritage, it could also be argued that it’s durable and practical to the needs of a working cabbie.
If you’re an experienced EV driver you’ll know that your driving habits will have to adapt to get the best out of the vehicle. Regeneration braking offers more range and less wear and tear on brake pads than non-EV taxis.
The team at Dynamo reliably tell us that the taxi will do over 170 miles per charge. That’s a decent range for any cabbie without a big commute into the city that they are licensed in. However, there is now a reliance on an efficient and well maintained charging network in your area, both where you ply-for-hire and where you live.
A rapid 50Kw street charger will take 40-60 minutes to get you from around 20% to 80% charged. A home charge is likely to take roughly 7 hours using an installed charge point.
Whilst you can charge your taxi using a three pin plug home socket, it’s likely to take over 21 hours to do so!
The taxi comes with multiple charging options including the Chademo and CSS points. It’s always handy having both available to use as some charge points will perform differently or be maintained at higher or lower levels.
So what will it cost to charge the Dynamo? Having driven 30,000 miles in an EV taxi myself, I think Dynamo’s estimate of roughly £30, maybe £40 if you’re putting the miles in, per week is pretty spot on. Home charging is a must to be able to achieve that figure though.
Now we’re talking money, the price of the taxi is confirmed as £47,995 after government subsidies/grants totalling £7,500.
Whilst that figure has crept up a little since its first estimate a couple of years back, it still represents very good value in the taxi market. With so few moving parts, servicing and maintenance can be expected to be significantly lower than that of their internal combustion engine counterparts.
From a business point of view, the figures will all add up if you’re a full time driver or a fleet owner. If you’re a part-time driver you might still have to wait for the second hand market to kick in as the savings come through the number of miles you drive.
So the driver is pleased and comfortable, what about the punters in the back? They are handed a functional cab interior with seating for 5 people; 3 facing forwards and 2 facing backwards. There is enough leg room for a comfortable ride in the Dynamo, but other taxis might have a slight edge in terms of its overall passenger cabin design. Passengers will need to use the manual sliding door to enter the taxi and the panoramic glass roof is a fantastic addition to let more light in, given the smaller windows in the rear.
Wheelchair access and an easy access step completes the passenger experience.
There is good luggage space in the front, which is vital as you may struggle to fit anything more than the five passengers in the back without it effecting the customers’ comfort.
To sum up...
It’s a functional modern taxi that future proofs the driver going forwards. In writing this summary there’s two ways I could do it. I could compare it against the LEVC TXE taxi, but that wouldn’t be fair as it’s a completely different vehicle and there’s pro’s and con’s to both.
So let’s compare it against what you’d be replacing this vehicle with. From a drive perspective, it’s a step up from the diesel taxis of past. No question. It’s also more comfortable for the driver. It’s also very economical to run. However, the customer cabin feels smaller than other taxis old and new on the market.
As an experienced EV driver myself, drivers should be mindful of the charging network in their city. Currently the biggest issue facing EV cabbies in London is the lack of and reliability of rapid chargers. With a range extender taxi it’s less of a worry as there’s no urgency to charge if there’s none available or you’re not near one. That mind set will be different for cabbies looking to go 100% electric though.
The question I keep asking myself is: “With how many miles left on the clock would I start thinking about charging?”
Do you start looking for a charge point at 50 miles remaining? Any less and potentially you’re turning away good fares. A prime example would be when the Stansted Express goes down in London. It’s 34 miles from Liverpool Street Station to the Airport. You’ve then got only 16 miles to locate a working and available charger.
These concerns shouldn’t put you off test driving the Dynamo though. The two EV taxis on the market, as mentioned before, are completely different and it’ll only be when you test both of them you’ll find what suits you best.