The Environment Ministry plans to encourage the use of hybrid vehicles by offering subsidies to taxi drivers who purchase the vehicles. The program, in cooperation with the JNF and Union Motors, the importers of Toyota vehicles in Israel, takes aim at tens of thousands of vehicles that are on the road constantly, in the hope of reducing air pollution.
There are some 22,000 taxis on Israel’s roads, most of them utilizing diesel engines – which are among the “dirtiest” running engines on the roads, releasing high levels of pollutants. To make matters worse, the taxis generally ply the roads in city centers, further concentrating the high levels of pollution they release in areas that already have unhealthy environments.
Hybrid vehicles can reduce the pollution emitted by taxis significantly – by as much as 75 percent, if not more, studies show – and beginning this week, drivers or fleet owners who choose to trade in their vehicles or refit them with hybrid engines will receive NIS 20,000 toward that effort. The Ministry has allocated NIS 30 million for the program, a sum that will cover about 1,500 vehicles in the program’s first year.
Environment Minister Ze’ev Elkin praised the program, saying that “diesel engines cause cancer and endanger human lives. Replacing these engines with hybrid engines will be a direct move towards reducing pollution and ensuring the health of the public.”