The Gauteng government, in partnership with the taxi industry, has launched a R3m pilot project that will see 70 taxis operate on dual-fuel in an attempt to reduce carbon emissions.
Taxis from northern Pretoria and the East Rand township of Tembisa would operate on liquified petroleum gas (LPG) and petrol, the Gauteng economic development department said on Friday.
MEC Qedani Mahlangu hailed the initiative as a positive development towards achieving the objectives of Green economy.
“I would like to applaud Sasol for their support of this initiative and investing an additional R1.2m in refuelling infrastructure to date. This project has the potential to significantly advance our objective to create a low-carbon economy.
“South Africa’s most recent Country Report to the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development noted with concern our over-reliance on dirty energy,” she said.
Spokesman in her department Mandla Sidu said strategic relationships were established with the SA National Taxi Association Council, the SA National Energy Research Institute and Sasol.
After a robust vehicle selection process, seventy mini-bus taxis were converted to operate dually on petrol as well as LPG over a three-month period. An LPG vehicle conversion specialist was appointed to conduct the conversion process, he said.
“The project findings show an 11% reduction on the carbon dioxide, levels when switching the vehicles to LPG, which is one of the internationally recognised alternative energy sources that have a reduced harmful impact on the environment.
“More significantly, the tests show a massive reduction by 31% on the carbon monoxide (CO) levels, which is the harmful gas which can cause various forms of cancer. With the taxi industry transporting more than 14 million people daily, replication and expansion of the LPG conversion project will be of considerable advantage to the provincial and national government’s environmental management.”
In terms of fuel efficiency, the Automotive Industry Development Centre (Blue IQs automotive subsidiaries) showed that although the overall fuel consumption was higher on LPG, the lower cost of LPG balances out the effect of fuel costs for the minibus taxi driver.
The cost benefits also include improved longevity of the engine and a reduction of overall maintenance costs over the lifespan of the vehicle. Vehicle performance remained unchanged.
About 150 converted taxis were expected to be rolled out in the next 12 months.
More LPG refuelling stations are expected across Gauteng in order to support this growing fleet of “green” minibus taxis.
The project has received endorsement from the National Minister of Transport, Sibusiso Ndebele, who has also requested a briefing on the outcomes of the pilot project.-Sapa