A new all-electric taxi fleet, called Téo Taxi, will launch in beta on Thursday November 26, and will open itself to the general public in mid-March.
The new company, called Taxelco Téo, was unveiled by entrepreneur and investor Alexandre Taillefer Wednesday morning in Pointe St-Charles, which will be home to the Téo fleet.
The launch will begin with 60 cars, Nissan Leafs, Kia Souls and Teslas, as well as cars manufactured by Chinese company BYD, but Taillefer plans to expand the fleet to 1,000 cars by 2017 and 2,000 cars by 2019.
The electric fleet is part of Taillefer’s overall acquisition of Taxi Hochelaga, Montreal’s largest taxi company, earlier this year.
Cars will be equipped with 150 megabits per second high-speed Wi-fi, provided by Vidéotron, and will have charging stations for passengers to recharge their devices, and will be equipped with interactive tablets (a “coming soon” feature) conveying weather, news and presumably some form of marketing.
The garage now has 10 charging stations, and Taillefer has plans to install charging stations at the airport and in the basement of a building owned by the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec.
Taillefer’s own company XPND Capital, along with Claridge Investment Ltd. and the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec are investing $250 million in the project.
Unlike Über, Téo admits that it is a taxi service, with a fleet of cars and employees towards whom the company bears some responsibility.
To that end, Téo drivers will be paid $15 per hour, along with paid vacation and benefits.
Compared with the taxi industry norm, in which drivers own their own cars and earn about $8 per hour, it seems a pretty fair deal.
Téo was pitched by Taillefer during the recent Je Vois Montréal campaign, which was part of Mayor Denis Coderre’s larger vision to engage with local innovators to help Montreal become a Smart City.
Taillefer managed to negotiate a unique taxi licensing arrangement with the Quebec government, renting permits for individual vehicles.
He claims that through saving approximately $15,000 per car on gas costs alone, Téo will be able to pay its drivers a fair wage and benefits, combined with the fact that through vehicle usage optimization the fleet should only be sitting idle about 40% of the time, compared with the taxi industry average of 75% idle time.
Those efficiencies will combine for a 35% saving, according to Taillefer, half of which will be passed on to drivers in the form of high wages and benefits.
This week, the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec invested $15 million in Taillefer’s company, XPNDCroissance.
Téo is looking for 500 citizen testers to try out the fleet during its beta phase.