Portlanders? Portlandites? Portlandians? Whatever you call the natives of Oregon’s largest city, it looks like they’ll have a new way to get around town soon.
Oregon Public Broadcasting (OPB) reports that the Portland City Council has approved an application by EcoCab, a mostly electric taxi company, to operate within city limits. The verdict was unanimous in favor of EcoCab, who hopes to start off with a fleet of 15 vehicles in the Rose City soon.
Along with non-electric wheelchair-accessible vans, EcoCab offers taxi services in EVs like the Nissan Leaf, Chevy Volt, and the Tesla Model S. Not the insane, 691-horsepower P85D version, mind you, though a cab that can accomplish 0 to 60 mph in 3.2 seconds is quite appealing. Compared to a Prius or Ford Crown Victoria, though, even the base model Tesla is a significant upgrade.
According to Tesla’s website, Portland already has four superchargers set up that can replenish the Model S’ battery by half in about 20 minutes. More superchargers are planned to be built in the next couple years, which is reflected in EcoCab owner Ron Knori’s goal to have the Model S make up the bulk of his fleet. The company’s application will allow him to employ up to 51 vehicles eventually.
The current taxi situation in Portland is what some would call ‘not good.’ A study by ECONorthwest, referenced in the OPB article, says that there are only 7.5 taxis per 10,000 residents in PDX, a relatively small number compared to areas of similar size. The rate of successful scheduled pick-ups during peak hours was also an underwhelming 84 percent.
Another element affecting Portland’s taxi industry is the app-based transportation network Uber. Though it operated illegally in the city for some time, the service has been officially suspended until at least April 9th, when a newly-established committee will decide Uber’s fate.