The Ford Mustang Mach-E is the latest electric vehicle to join the city’s iconic yellow taxi fleet on the streets of New York City. Gravity, a startup focused on EV fleets and charging infrastructure, is operating the Mustang Mach-E, which has a fresh coat of Rally Yellow paint and classic taxi iconography.
This is the first time Ford’s new mass-market electric vehicle has been used as a taxi. But it won’t be the last: Gravity plans to operate a fleet of 50 electric vehicles, including Mustang Mach-Es and Tesla Model Ys, in the future.
“I think the Mustang and the Model Y are kind of like today’s ideal taxi vehicles,” Moshe Cohen, Gravity’s founder, and CEO told The Verge.
The company Gravity isn’t the first to use electric vehicles as taxis. The city’s Taxi and Limousine Commission accepted the Tesla Model 3 as the first electric vehicle to be approved for use as a yellow taxi in 2019. The first Model 3 was spotted in the city a year later. Revel, a moped sharing firm, stated earlier this year that it would launch a fleet of 50 Tesla Model Ys as a for-hire vehicle in Manhattan.
Gravity is taking a unique approach by incorporating its vehicles into the city’s regulated yellow cab fleet. Under an EV trial program accepted by the TLC earlier this year, the vehicles are allowed to be used as taxis. Gravity would, however, need to lease a taxi medallion, which is a city-issued authorization that allows people to own and operate taxis.
The company is licensed as a taxi agent, which means it can lease medallions. The Mustang Mach-E has passed TLC clearances and inspections, but Cohen expects further features to be added in the future, which will require further approval.
Gravity has installed an “artificial intelligence camera” that tracks the driver’s face to avoid distraction, according to Cohen. In addition, the company monitors the vehicle’s speed and other driving manoeuvres to ensure that drivers are operating safely.
In New York City, EV charging infrastructure is scarce, but Gravity runs its charging station out of a parking garage in Midtown Manhattan. According to Cohen, the company plans to install more chargers in the future, including fast-chargers with speeds of up to 350 kW. More taxi companies in the United States are incorporating electric vehicles into their fleets, owing to the cost savings and marketing opportunities. Hertz recently placed a 100,000-vehicle order with Tesla, and other rental car firms are following suit.