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02:43 GMT +3 hours21 December 2014
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First All-Electric Taxi Fleet Could Hit Roads in US

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A futuristic-looking fleet of all-electric cabs may soon be plugged in and driving on the streets of Arlington, Virginia, near the nation’s capital, a sign the environmentally-friendly vehicles are slowly catching on as a viable means of transportation in the US.

A futuristic-looking fleet of all-electric cabs may soon be plugged in and driving on the streets of Arlington, Virginia, near the nation’s capital, a sign the environmentally-friendly vehicles are slowly catching on as a viable means of transportation in the US.

“No one has really taken the first step to do this,” said Malik Khattak, founder of Electric Vehicle Taxicab Company, who has proposed a fleet of 40, all-electric Nissan Leaf cars he says will be the first taxicab fleet of its kind in the US.

Khattak envisions cars equipped with iPads and wireless Internet access that allows web browsing and offers passengers the flexibility to pay with a credit card.

But the most unique feature is the all-electric function, which allows each car to go an estimated 99 miles (159 km) before recharging.

And there are other plusses.

“It’s an electric car. It never needs an oil change,” said Khattak. “It has zero emissions, which means nothing comes out of the tailpipe.”

He adds, it reduces the nation’s carbon footprint and could give him a competitive advantage with customers who are looking for ways to help the environment.

If the plan is approved, the company has pledged to install 56 charging stations in its service area, which would charge the cars in under 30 minutes and allow them to operate 24 hours a day.

The service stations could address one concern customers have expressed about buying and driving the electric cars: there aren’t currently enough places to plug them in.

Khattak wants the community to have access to the charging stations, a move that may encourage people to give them a go.

More exposure to electric cars, “is a way to build consumer awareness and comfort with the new technology,” said Genevieve Cullen, vice president of the Elective Drive Transportation Association, which promotes electric transportation in the US.

A county manager has recommended approval of the fleet, but the five-member Arlington County Board has to sign off. They’re scheduled to consider the plan next month.