Bodetax starts experiment electric wheelchair transport
The need to become more sustainable and to reduce our ecological footprint is becoming increasingly important. The transport sector is also moving along by making the company more sustainable on the one hand and offering zero-emission passenger feed on the other. Taxi company Bodetax also shares this opinion. They have implemented various sustainability measures within the company and have now also started offering electric wheelchair transport. At the beginning of May, the first MAN E-TGE wheelchair bus was delivered. We interview Wout van Aken, director of Bodetax, about his experiences.
From a single Chevrolet to a fleet of 40 taxis and wheelchair buses
Bodetax, located in Giessenburg, has been providing Taxi, Care and Group transport for over 60 years. It started as the Bode brothers with their first Chevrolet. Over the years, Bodetax has grown into a fleet of 40 taxis and the journeys mainly relate to the transport of the elderly and the transport to daytime activities for people with disabilities. Wout van Aken, director of Bodetax: “Our passengers are often special clients, whom we are happy to give the extra attention they deserve. In order to be able to carry out the transport with passion and patience, we train our drivers, so that they have the experience and expertise that belongs to this special transport.
The start of the experiment
We did have experience with electric cars, but electric wheelchair transport is a new challenge. The vehicles we drive are large and heavy, so that electric motor will have to pull hard to achieve a workable range. But the future offers no room for doubt, clean transport will be the future demand. That is why we made the decision earlier this year to start with electric wheelchair transport.
Together searching for the right e-mobility solution
After our decision, we focused on the possibilities for electric wheelchair transport. We did this in collaboration with e-mobility specialist Tribus. They were the first party to launch an electric vehicle on the market and have been providing comprehensive market information on zero-emission vehicles ever since. I spoke to Wilfred Wijnands, director at Tribus and he recommended the MAN E-TGE. That is actually still the only vehicle, like the Volkswagen e-Crafter, that can carry multiple wheelchairs and is still completely zero emissions. In addition, there is a 5-year full warranty and an 8-year warranty on the high-volt battery. Wilfred did indicate that range would not be sufficient for all rides, but we had already estimated that ourselves. We have therefore opted for a route that runs a daily morning and afternoon ride. This way we can charge for 45 minutes in the meantime. Satisfied with the information received, we purchased a vehicle and had it converted into a wheelchair bus.
The practicalities before the start
With the purchase of the electric wheelchair bus, the next challenge was the installation of an electric charging station. Within Bodetax we have been making a lot of progress in recent years, so this was quick and easy for us to arrange. We use a heat pump for heating the building in combination with solar panels on the roof. We now also use the electricity supplied by the solar panels to charge the vehicle. Our experiment started at the beginning of May, the MAN E-TGE wheelchair bus was delivered to us in Giessenburg. So at first glance a beautiful appearance. We immediately gave our drivers a course in electric driving. How do you use the vehicle, what is warming up and how do you achieve the maximum range were topics that were discussed. On May 5, our drivers officially put the vehicle into use.
Nice feedback from clients and drivers
I soon received the first reactions. Our clients were very proud to be driven in a vehicle that does not cause air pollution. They are also pleased with the simplicity of the wheelchair securing system as they are locked fast and comfortable. Drivers say they like driving in the vehicle because the driving comfort is better than Diesel. All in all, a suitable vehicle for the route in which it is currently driving. For the future, we hope to be able to get a wheelchair bus with a larger range for longer journeys.”