Ho-ho-ho! Something green is sprouting up in Arlington: It's Hans Hess, whose latest venture, EnviroCab, will boast a stable of 50 hybrid taxis. What do you expect from the man who brought the health-conscious burger (by way of Elevation Burger) to Falls Church? "The future of business is being aware of the impact people have on the environment and on public health," Hans says.
Here's Hans with one of his spiffy new Toyota Prius taxis. EnviroCab got the, uh, green light from Arlington County's transportation officials to operate more than half the total new cabs recommended for the county. Hans is just waiting till Sept. 18 for the county board to sign off on the deal.
There hasn't been a new taxi service in Arlington for more than 20 years. Hans says EnviroCab hybrids will get 40–48 mpg. (A typical Crown Victoria cab gets 12–16 mpg.) The green will help Hans stay in the black— he says his fleet will incur lower maintenance costs—but it will also mean reduced nitrous oxide emissions and about one-third as much pollution as those nasty ol' combustion engines.
Hans illustrated this point—dramatically. "Do you know those 25-gallon tanks scuba divers use?" he queries. "Arlington's entire cab fleet would fill 2 million of those with CO2 emissions in a year. It's disgusting." Point taken, Hans.
Hans is a self-professed nature boy. He says his California upbringing is to blame: His family shopped at natural food stores and saw the effect of wasted resources during droughts in the Golden State. He gets giddy when he hears about what other local companies are doing to be environmentally responsible—the construction of green buildings, Whole Foods Market's commitment to solar power, or My Organic Market's community-oriented events that encourage customers to do things like keep their tires inflated properly (which improves a car's efficiency).
Hans is a serial entrepreneur: He sold T-shirts to help pay his way through Cal Poly, where he majored in physics. He started Elevation Burger because he was sick of fast food—from both a health and taste perspective. (We feel ya, Hans!)
OK, we know its just like the first pic. But Hans dotes on his new cars. (Just look at that smile!) Hans says EnviroCab has the green goods and will bring the time-honored profession of taxiing into the environmental age. His will actually be a carbon-negative fleet: Hans plans to purchase offset credits that will go toward wind power generation.