Enak Ferlemann, Bruno Ginnuth, Frank Horch, Kay Uwe Arnecke and Tom Fux. Photo:DPA
If you've ever regretted hopping into a cab because you can't face walking home in the rain then CleverShuttle have a ride-sharing solution which won't burn a hole in your pocket or the Ozone.
Since September 8th a total of 10 hydrogen-powered Toyotas have been prowling the inner city of Hamburg waiting for you to (digitally) hail them.
Customers can book the taxis using a smartphone app. And if there are lots of journeys being booked in the vicinity, the app's algorithm will automatically pair you with travellers going to the same area, reducing fuel consumption and therefore the fare for both parties.
According to Deutsche Bahn, which partly owns CleverShuttle, customers could save around 40% compared to normal taxi fares, and all whilst choosing a carbon neutral form of travel.
The service has been compared to Uber. But thanks to its slightly different operating system, CleverShuttle, unlike Uber Pop, hasn't been banned from many German cities.
Deutsche Bahn has been involved with the start-up since 2015 and CleverShuttle has already pioneered its service in Leipzig and Munich, as well as in the company’s home city of Berlin.
CleverShuttle has already announced plans to begin operating in Dresden, Stuttgart, and Frankfurt within the next year, while they also plan to at least double their fleet in the Hamburg city centre by the end of 2017.
The taxis themselves are brand new Toyotas which run completely on a hydrogen fuel cell, the infrastructure for which is in its infancy. But this appears to be changing.
The introduction of hydrogen powered cars has only been made possible by the increase in hydrogen refuelling stations (or HRSs). While there are currently only 18 operational HRSs in the country, providing limited scope for long-distance driving in a hydrogen-fuelled car, this number is planned to rise to 100 by the end of 2018.
The vehicles themselves have a reinforced fuel tank to compensate for the volatile nature of hydrogen and sensors ensure that, if a crash occurs, the flow of hydrogen is stopped so it doesn't escape the tank and ignite.
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