On Thursday, April 21, the new all-electric Téo Taxi fleet will officially launch on the streets of Montreal, having logged 30,000 trips per month since the beginning of its soft-launch period in November.
Declaring himself “very satisfied” with the performance of Téo Taxi since its launch, CEO Alexandre Taillefer told La Presse, “At this rate, we’ll cross the threshold of profitability very soon.”
Téo Taxi has reached that state of near profitability during its months-long trial period despite a delay caused by a bug in its app, which necessitated switching developers in time for the app’s re-launch.
Taillefer is no taxi novice, having acquired Taxi Hochelaga, Montreal’s largest taxi company, least year, the grounds of which in Pointe St-Charles have become home to his fleet of Téo cars, the sight of which has now become common on Montreal streets.
And having validated Téo’s model in Montreal, Taillefer is already talking about expanding the service to Quebec City and Toronto.
He also sees opportunity in new markets, including creating adapted transportation aimed at handicapped and aging populations, paying particular attention to international manufacturers such as China’s Geely or Turkey’s Karsan.
He is also looking at incorporating the car-sharing model into Téo’s app, allowing users to drive a fleet of available cars, beginning with a pilot of a dozen cars and using its own service centre for battery recharging and mechanical inspection.
For Montreal, this would add to the already robust mix of transportation options available to citizens, including the BIXI bike-sharing service, and public transportation company STM’s rechargeable Opus cards.
“With taxis, Opus and BIXI, rental would be part of an overall transportation solution,” said Taillefer to La Presse.
Perhaps most ambitiously, though, Taillefer plans to get into the all-electric delivery business in 2017, using mini-trucks along with available taxis and car-sharing vehicles for parcel delivery, eventually debuting long-haul delivery between cities in 2018, using battery-swapping techniques which can also be applied to long-distance bus travel.
“We’re the most implicated and ambitious group when it comes to electrifying transport in Quebec,” said Taillefer to La Presse.
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Taillefer is funding the initiative through XPND Capital, his own investment firm, which saw the closing of its second fund, XPNDCROISSANCE, in March, bringing the fund’s total to $75 million, with $10 million participation from the Fonds de solidarité FTQ, $5 million from the Fondaction CSN, $15 million from Investissement Québec, adding to the $15 million invested in November by the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec.
The Téo Taxi fleet is painted a distinctive green and white colour and composed of Kia Souls, Teslas and Nissan Leafs.
Whereas the average taxi driver earns about $8 an hour and works between 12 and 16 hours per day, Téo drivers work 8-hour days and are paid $15 per hour, along with paid vacation and benefits.
In contrast to Téo, ride-sharing apps like Uber get by on a model that involves not paying any capital costs while low-balling the “wages” paid to their freelance workers, a situation that works pretty well for Uber and for consumers who enjoy being cheap, but doesn’t bode well for the future health of drivers, not to mention the overall economy, as ride-sharing app companies experience none of the eventual downside of vehicle depreciation and low-paying precarious employment that will be experienced in the long run by the rest of us.
Anecdotal evidence, at least if Twitter is anything to go by, demonstrates a degree of job satisfaction that is unheard of among taxi drivers, not to mention the independent contractors who drive for Uber.
Best of all, as well as being able to hail an taxi through an app, Téo Taxis are available for street-side hailing.
— Marika Laforest (@MarikaMTL) April 18, 2016