Launched with great fanfare and a lot of promise three years ago, the city's electric taxi company says its operations will cease.
The drivers of Téo were the first to know the news when they presented themselves to work in the company's workshop at St-Patrick St. on Tuesday and were rejected by security guards who could not enter.
A total of 460 pilots employed by Téo Taxi received dismissal notices.
Hours later, at a press conference, company management confirmed rumors that they were looking for a week for the company to stop operations.
"It is with a broken heart and a lot of sadness that we have to end the activities of Téo Taxi," said Dominic Bécotte, co-founder of the parent company of Téo, Taxelco.
He said the company was not profitable, and asked the government for dynamic pricing, such as adding a surcharge during peak periods, charging more to travel to a Tesla or paying a fee to advance in a car – had fallen in ears deaf people
The problems with electric cars, many of which must be recharged several times a day, especially during winter months, also contributed to the closure, he said.
Despite reports that the company would restructure, Bécotte said that Téo will no longer exist and will not live in any other way.
Taxelco also owns Taxi Diamante and Taxi Hochelaga. These traditional taxi companies will continue to operate.
Bécotte said the company's efforts will now electrify those tax fleets again.
As for the 192 cars that formed the Téo fleet, including several Teslas bought for more than $ 100,000, they will be sold.
In Gatineau for a meeting of the provincial cabinet, Prime Minister François Legault said the government examined several scenarios and concluded that he could not do anything to help Téo Taxi at this stage.
"At first glance, it is not possible for the government to help the company," Legault said. "We looked at different scenarios, especially to save jobs with higher payments. There were some.
"If someone went ahead to take care of the company (there could be a chance), but now we can not do anything.
"It's sad. It was an avant-garde business model with electric cars and a complicated software application. But I do not think we're on the verge of taxis in Quebec."
Bécotte said the company will meet the drivers in the next days and weeks.
Christopher Monette, the director of public affairs at Teamsters Canada, said the union will fight for employees to obtain a deductible balance, which they believe is entitled to.
He said the company treated its employees badly in recent days.
"We had been trying to keep the company since the rumors came out, and the company did not call us again. Obviously, this is embarrassing. In addition, workers who appeared at 3 in the afternoon only for Being rejected by the security guards is not acceptable either. "
Téo launched a business model different from the traditional taxis companies. Using only electric cars, the company was driven by a mobile Uber type application that allowed customers to see on a map where they were their drivers.
Bécotte said the application will continue to be available to test the taxis of Diamond Taxi.
Téo employees paid a salary per hour, worked seven hours per week and were eligible to obtain benefits and vacation time.
(Traditional taxi drivers are self-employed and often work for 60-70 hours for mortgage payments for their taxi licenses, many of which are purchased for more than $ 200,000).
Téo also had a special government dispensation to rent and buy more taxi licenses than the number of automobiles in his fleet. On Tuesday, the company was still renting 170 taxi licenses, and Bécotte said it would negotiate with the owners of these permits to settle down with them.
Bécotte said the company received $ 7.5 million in government subsidies, but most of that money was available to anyone who operates a taxi company or who bought an electric car at the province
The former Liberal Minister approved a loan of $ 4 million.
Téo Taxi was the idea of the famous Quebec businessman, Alexandre Taillefer, who was the face of the company when it announced the year 2015.
Taillfer moved away from Téo and Taxelco last May, but he still appears as the managing partner of Fonds XPND Croissance – the majority owner of Taxelco.
The Canadian Presse has contributed to this report.