As if Uber wasn’t enough for the taxi industry to contend with, here’s another trend that could set the whole taxi world upside down: Electric cabs.
Climate-conscious consumers in Montreal will soon have that option with the arrival of Téo, a taxi service that will operate an electric car fleet.
Launched by Montreal entrepreneur Alexandre Taillefer, Téo will begin a three-month testing period on Thursday and plans to be open to the public by mid-March, 2016. (The company is looking for 500 Montrealers with a smartphone to help test-run the service over the next three months. Check out their website if you're interested.)
There will be two tiers of service: Téo Taxi will feature a fleet of green and white Nissan Leaf and Kia Soul cars, while the more luxurious Téo Black will feature black Tesla sedans.
"The two services will meet Montrealers' different transportation needs," said Marc Petit, CEO of Taxelco, the company that operates Téo.
"Téo Taxi offers a unique and highly personalized service that encourages interaction between the driver and customer. Téo Black caters mainly to a business clientele, with competitive pricing that will make it a popular service across the city."
Among the perks of riding in a Téo cab: You'll be able to order one by phone, like Uber, but the app will also allow you to split rides with other passengers, if they're going where you're going.
Each car will be outfitted with a tablet that will show personalized content based on your customer profile, and there will be free WiFi and chargers in each vehicle.
A Jibe At Uber?
Though it didn’t mention Uber by name in its launch announcement, Téo is clearly trying to distinguish itself from the increasingly popular app-based ride service that has angered the taxi industry for operating without government licensing.
"With Téo, we plan to show that a green project can be economically, socially and environmentally beneficial, while respecting all regulations," founder Taillefer said in a statement.
And amid concerns that “sharing economy” companies like Uber are making work more precarious, Téo stressed that it will “pay a higher, guaranteed salary to Téo drivers,” adding that the company is making a “special effort to encourage women to join the team.”
The company aims to have a fleet of 1,000 electric taxis on the streets of Montreal by 2017.