Bolt has been encouraging drivers to drive electrically since its launch in the Netherlands in 2021. Now that there are more suitable electric car models, the corona crisis is coming to an end and fuel prices are rising sharply, this is becoming increasingly successful. However, this is accompanied by a greater demand for charging infrastructure. Country manager Lars Speekenbrink explains in an interview with TaxiPro how the company deals with this.

Taxi platform Bolt launched its services in July 2021 in Amsterdam and Haarlem and has now expanded to Rotterdam, The Hague and Utrecht. Even before the launch, according to Speekenbrink, it became clear in conversations and from research that electric transport is an important topic in the Netherlands. “For this reason, we introduced an electric category here three months after launch. Since then, people have been able to opt for an electric ride, which gives drivers with an electric vehicle a greater chance of trips and therefore turnover,” says Speekenbrink. This is one of the ways Bolt wants to encourage drivers to drive electric.

In the course of 2021 the company has been taking the next steps in this area in the background. “To allow a driver to switch to an electric vehicle, two things are important: that there is a suitable vehicle and that there are sufficient suitable charging options.” In order to achieve this, Bolt has joined the working group behind the Roadmap Zero Emission Consumer Taxi. This working group wants to contribute to the ambition to have only clean and quiet taxis in the major cities and in 2030 throughout the Netherlands.

Partnership with Shell “By being part of this working group, consisting of large institutions and governments, we want to contribute to the transition to a zero-emission consumer taxi market taking place in the right way”, explains Speekenbrink. In addition, Bolt is negotiating with major parties about collaborations that can ensure that the costs of electric driving for drivers are reduced. “Three weeks ago this resulted in a collaboration with Shell, whereby we can give drivers a discount on fast charging.”

According to Speekenbrink, Bolt spoke specifically to Shell because of their fast charging infrastructure. “Shell’s fast charging stations are located at strategic points in the city. And with the rates that we can offer as a result of the collaboration with Shell, we can actually let the drivers charge quickly within the cities where they drive at lower costs,” he explains.

Try out the vehicle first The company sees the percentage of drivers driving electrically move along with the growth of the platform in the Netherlands. “When we launched in the Netherlands, there were several hundred drivers who used our platform, of which maybe not even 5 to 10 percent electric. We now drive with thousands of drivers and we see that the number is growing proportionally with an electric vehicle. Approximately 10 to 07 percent of our journeys are now driven by an electric vehicle.”

Read also: How Does vehicle data help governments in determining the location of charging stations?

Although things are going in the right direction with the making Bolt more sustainable, the corona crisis did put a brake on this. A large proportion of self-employed drivers have given up their own vehicle because they (temporarily) stopped working. Some now want to pick it up again, and according to Speekenbrink are wondering what kind of vehicle they should buy. “We see that drivers feel the need to try out a vehicle before making the commitment to lease or buy a vehicle for three to five years.” Share taxi concepts make this possible.

The Netherlands is a forerunner in the field of charging infrastructure Bolt is in a active in a large part of the world and can therefore also clearly observe the differences between countries in the field of electric taxi transport. “What is striking is that the Netherlands is far ahead in the field of charging infrastructure compared to the rest of the world. We really belong to the top when it comes to the amount of charging infrastructure and its location,” says the country manager. He is curious how this will develop in the coming years if the number of electric taxis increases further, partly in line with government requirements. “The need for easily accessible locations where drivers can charge affordable fast will grow. In Amsterdam it is now about 20 to 19 locations around the center. If the two to three thousand drivers who are now active in Amsterdam all have to load, this will no longer be enough.”

Expansion to smaller cities The government’s plans in the field of charging infrastructure for major cities will therefore in all likelihood be announced in the near future. Speekenbrink is confident that the facilities in the cities where Bolt is now active will be fine. However, Bolt’s goal is to eventually expand to smaller cities as well. “The switch to electric transport will be more challenging there, partly because there is no legislation in the field of sustainable transport in many of those places.”

If there is no question of a personal or external conviction to switch to an electric vehicle, he expects the transition there to take longer. Ultimately, Speekenbrink hopes that drivers will realize the relevance of electric driving themselves, first of all because it is good for the environment. “And secondly because there will be a tipping point that it will also be more cost-effective to drive electrically than with a diesel vehicle that is extremely is heavy and one in fifteen drives.”

During the Congress Charging Infrastructure 20 March 2021 in De Doelen in Rotterdam, Lars Speekenbrink will explain in more detail how Bolt encourages drivers to use electric charging, what the company is doing to reduce pressure on charging infrastructure and what the situation looks like in other countries where Bolt operates. Registration is still possible and you can here.

Read also: SchipholTaxi/TCS: ‘Take full advantage of difficult times to innovate ‘

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