240D Mercedes-Benz - Ecocab

A Cab Company With A Diesel Twist

Jason Sands
Aug 15, 2007
Photographers: Jason Sands
When you're running a taxi company, fuel is one of the major expenses, and there is no way around it. Or is there? Bryan Gabbard of Chico, California, figured out a way to cut this major expense out of the equation by creating Ecocab, a taxi service that uses modified Mercedes-Benz diesels.
Photo 2/11   |   240d Mercedes Benz side View Title
The cars are converted to run on used vegetable oil that Gabbard acquires from various restaurants around town. Chico is a small college town, so there are plenty of places to eat and drink-good for picking up fares and finding waste in the form of used oil to fuel his MBZs. Most restaurants have to pay for the disposal of used oil, so many of them are more than ready to give it away when Gabbard comes around. He figures he gets about 45 free gallons a week from various restaurants, which at today's diesel prices saves him more than $500 a month in fuel.
Ecocab is limited to two cabs: one turbo and one nonturbo. Both are reliable modes of transportation, and the two-car fleet offers plenty of room for the five or six people who may be piling in.
Running an "environmentally friendly taxi service" has also generated fringe benefits. Some students will only use Gabbard's cabs for getting home, even if it means a long wait. Some people have told Gabbard, "That's OK, I'll just walk," after hearing that he would be unavailable for a quick pickup. Whoever uttered the phrase, "There's no such thing as a free lunch," may be right, but the oil used to cook that lunch is fueling Gabbard's clean company.

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