Montreal is home to Canada’s first all-electric taxi service. Dubbed Téo (short for Transport Écologique Optimisé) and funded by a Québec-based private equity firm, the service hit the French Canadian city’s streets in November with a fleet of 50 battery electric vehicles (BEV) that includes the Nissan Leaf, Kia Soul EV, and Tesla Model S.
It may be the first of its kind in Canada, but Téo follows the recent arrival of an all-Tesla limo service in Chicago, and a London, UK taxi company that runs BMW i3s.
Téo says last month’s launch marked the start of a “collaborative and supervised” pilot project whose objective “is to optimize the performance of electric vehicles operating as taxis and in Montreal’s rigourous weather conditions.” The subtext here is that the truly lovely city of Montreal can be positively frigid between December and March, and cars used as taxis take a lot of crap from drivers and passengers. And don’t forget Montreal’s downtown streets, which are often more pothole than pavement. Put it all together, and you’ve got a great test for whether electric vehicles are up for cab duty.
The company’s plan (which we assume will only go forward if the two-year pilot is a success) is to have 2,000 vehicles on the road by 2019, meaning that these first 50 represent just 2.5 percent of the eventual fleet. That’s a big deal: according to this Montreal Gazette article, there were 12,000 taxis in Montreal as of late 2014.