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Arlington officials warn against all-electric taxi fleet

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Local,Virginia,Transportation,Taylor Holland

Arlington officials are warning that the county should not become home to the nation's first all-electric fleet of taxi cabs and called on the County Board to reject the upstart cab company.

The technologies behind electric cars have not advanced far enough to guarantee that the electric cabs will always make it to their final destinations without stranding passengers because the cabs' batteries died, the Arlington Transportation Committee concluded.

The committee voted 5-0 Thursday to ask the board to reject a recommendation from County Manager Barbara Donnellan, who supports allowing a 40-car, all electric fleet to begin operating in Arlington.

The transportation committee's vote comes less than a month after Donnellan recommended adding the all-electric fleet operated by Electric Vehicle Taxicab Co. as part of the county's overall expansion of the number of taxis it allows to operate in the county.

Electric Vehicle founder Malik Khattak could not be reached Friday. But he previously told The Washington Examiner that the electric fleet, comprised of Nissan Leafs with backseat iPads and wireless Internet access for passengers, will prove to be the future of the taxi industry.

Rick Vogel, general manager of Envirocab, Arlington's first completely hybrid, "carbon-negative" taxi company, said that the limited battery life makes an all-electric fleet impractical, at least for now.

"When they can get it to last for 250 miles, it's a winner," Vogel said. "But as it stands right now, they can only go 60-70 miles on a charge. What happens if a customer gets in when it's half charged and wants to go to Dulles [International Airport]? Now's just not the time for electric cars."

tholland@washingtonexaminer.com

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