Thailand is currently witness to a powerful call-to-action within its taxi industry. The Thai Public Taxi Association is championing a significant change and quite literally, a recharge, within the transport sector – the widespread adoption of electric vehicles (EVs). Chairing this electrifying endeavor is none other than Association Chairman Sadit Jaitiang.
Mr. Sadit has confirmed that an important discussion is scheduled to echo down the high corridors of transport bureaucracy next Friday. On the other side of the dialogue table will sit Transport Minister Suriya Jungrungreangkit. The agenda? A medley of subjects affecting the wellbeing of taxi drivers across the country. But of utmost importance will be the proposition of a clean, green future for Thailand’s roads – courtesy of electric taxis.
The advantages of an electric takeover are manifold, according to the association chairman. He firmly asserts that this revolutionary shift in the taxi segment will conspicuously curtail carbon emissions and dust pollution, two perpetrators currently affecting the air quality in the capital city.
To jolt this transition into high gear, the association is marshaling for some kilowatt-powered incentives for their drivers. They’re advocating for generous tax concessions and subsidies, including a substantial 300,000 baht per EV unit subsidy. Yet, it is not just climate concerns that drive this demand for incentives, but economic reality. The fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic has left many taxi drivers grappling with a financial limbo.
Mr. Sadit does not mince words when he acknowledges the significant business progression that the pandemic swallowed up – a concern shared by many taxi drivers who have felt the sting of these trying times. He warns against blindly pushing for electric vehicles without the suggested relief measures. The resulting financial burden could overwhelm drivers already scrambling to regain financial stability.
Presently, it appears the fleet may already be in need of a revamp. Nearly 20,000 taxi cabs, now in their twilight years of operation, are due for replacement. The chairman believes the timing is perfect for an electric rebirth, with an estimated requirement of about 10,000 units initially.
And the electrics on their wishlist? The Thai Public Taxi Association picks 90- and 120-kilowatt models as ideal replacements. They’re also endorsing low-interest loans from the SME Development Bank, making it easier for drivers to plunge into this green revolution.
But electrification won’t pacify all the issues on the association’s list. Meeting topics ranging from re-evaluating fare rates and devising a blueprint for driver registration with rideshare apps will also be deliberated. One more issue, the stalled construction of a taxi park at Suvarnabhumi Airport, green-lit in 2019, is yet to leave the starting blocks. Simultaneously, the request for a roof sheltering the waiting area at the airport will also be discussed.
And while change doesn’t charge overnight, with these discussions under way, the association’s drive to a cleaner, green future looks more promising than ever.
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