Four Nissan Leaf cabs rolled out since Earth Day, April 22, and testers of the pilot program gave The Post a first look at how they are helping to work out the kinks.
“You are limited to how far you can go,” said cabby Uppkar Singh Thind, 42.
He went electric last month after he was one of six people selected to test the new fully electric cab.
“I was over the moon,” said Thind, who paid only $1 for the car that he will sell back to Nissan after a year on the road.
Driving the Leaf is a whole new experience for the cabby, who owns his medallion and has 17 years experience driving New Yorkers.That’s why he plans his daily route in the most efficient way possible.
The Queens resident starts his shift at 3 p.m. at JFK Airport, so that he can take a passenger into Manhattan — where he powers up mid-shift at one of two quick-charge stations.
“The initial feedback from the pilot is that the two big issues are battery range and the availability of charges,” said TLC Commissioner David Yassky.
In the summer heat, running the air conditioning, Thind’s car can only go 3 1/2 hours or about 45 miles without charging. But the good news is that he can get juiced up in 25 minutes for only $7.
At night, he uses a trickle charge installed at his home, which takes about seven hours but is better for the life of the battery.
“I’m so much more conscious now,” he said.
New Yorkers still have to get used to the sleek new gold and silver look, which has caused some confusion on the road.
At the airport last Friday, a dispatcher was confused by the color of his car and tried to stop Thind from picking up a hail. He also said that some customers are scared off, thinking he’s a hustler and not a legitimate yellow cab.
But the car definitely turns heads.
“I wasn’t prepared for the attention,” Thind said. “It starts a conversation, I’ve noticed.”
Jocelyne Beaudoyn, a 55-year-old set designer who lives in Chelsea, rode in an electric cab for the first time on Friday — and was enamored with it.
“These things are fantastic,” said Beaudoyn. “It makes less pollution in the city; it makes less noise.”
Thind said he makes $250 a day, about $25 less than with his old car, because he has to turn down certain fares when he thinks he won’t be able to make the trip — but the flashy ride does bring in double the tips.
On the flip side, he doesn’t pay any maintenance costs on the car and spends only about $11 a day on electricity, including roughly $4 a night to charge his car — as opposed to about $50 in gas.
Four Leaf cabs are on the road now, and two more should hit the road by the end of the year. The city hopes to make one-third of its taxi fleet electric by 2020.
“Passengers certainly appreciate riding in an electric-vehicle taxi, and the environmental benefits are enormous,” Yassky said.
Thind says he is thrilled with the experience.
“I’m glad I did it, no regrets,” he said. “Whatever I’m losing, I’m gaining.”