March 21, 2019 / 1:24 PM / 6 months ago

Oslo to become first city to charge electric taxis over the air

Taxi driver Trond Soemme drives his electric taxi in Oslo, Norway September 13, 2018. Picture taken September 13, 2018. REUTERS/Gwladys Fouche

HELSINKI (Reuters) - Norway’s capital Oslo will become the first city in the world to install wireless charging systems for electric taxis, hoping to make recharging quick and efficient enough to speed the takeup of non-polluting cabs.

The project will use induction technology, with charging plates installed in the road at taxi ranks linking to receivers installed in the vehicle, Finnish utility Fortum said on Thursday.

From 2023 onward all taxis in Oslo will have to be zero emission and Norway wants all new cars to be zero emission by 2025. Among other nations, Britain and France have similar goals for 2040.

Fortum, which is working with U.S. firm Momentum Dynamics and the City of Oslo on the scheme, said the greatest hurdle for electrification of taxis had so far been the infrastructure, as it is too time consuming for cabbies to find a charger, plug in, then wait for the car to charge.

Induction is more energy efficient and enables charging the taxis while they are in the slowly moving queues at taxi ranks.

“Time equals money when taxi drivers are working,” said Ole Gudbrann Hempel, head of Fortum’s public charging network in Norway.

Norway has the world’s highest rate of electric car ownership, partly thanks to long-term perks such as free or discounted road tolls, parking and charging points. Last year, almost one in three new cars sold was electric.

The government also exempts electric vehicles from taxes on traditional vehicles that are very high in a country which does not have its own fossil fuel car industry to lobby against them.

With just five million people, Norway bought 46,143 new battery electric cars in 2018, making it the biggest market in Europe, ahead of Germany with 36,216 and France on 31,095, according to the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association.

Editing by Terje Solsvik and David Holmes

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