Oxford Direct Services (ODS), the commercial arm of Oxford City Council, has been approved as an authorised service dealer for the world’s first purpose built electric taxi - the TX. Under a three-year agreement, ODS will join a network of LEVC dealers outside London servicing TX black cabs, carrying out warranty work, supplying parts, responding to any breakdowns and undertaking body repairs in its insurance approved body repair centre. Its wide geographic catchment area will span from Bristol, south of Birmingham to west London.
Four ODS technicians will be trained and LEVC certified, with ODS investing in the appropriate diagnostic and specialist insulated tools required to keep electric taxis on the road. The TX meets the government’s Ultra Low Emissions Vehicle standard for taxis (ULEV). It is capable of at least 80 miles of zero emissions driving on battery power only and produces less than 50g/km of CO2 emissions. The new exhaust standards are aimed at reducing toxic nitrogen dioxide levels in the air which contribute to a variety of illnesses like cancer, asthma and heart disease, and cause an estimated 40,000 deaths in the UK every year. Oxford City Council and Oxfordshire County Council have recently published updated proposals for a Zero Emission Zone (ZEZ) in Oxford city centre. The updated proposals follow 15 months of listening to businesses, residents, transport operators and health experts in Oxfordshire and set a journey to zero transport emissions in Oxford by 2035. Under the new scheme, Hackney taxis will have to phase to zero-emission between 2020 and 2025, with drivers only able to get a licence in 2025 if they have a zero-emission cab. The aim of the ZEZ is to tackle Oxford’s toxic air pollution and protect the health of everyone who lives in, works in and visits the city. It is also expected that the ZEZ will improve air pollution levels across Oxfordshire because the buses and taxis that serve Oxford also serve towns and villages across the county. Oxford City Council is investing £500,000 to install 19 rapid and fast electric vehicle charging points to support taxi drivers who switch to ultra-low emission vehicles. The City Council won £370,000 of funding from the Government’s Office for Low Emissions Vehicles for the project and the aim is to seek the remaining funding from private investment. The first chargers will be installed in Spring 2019 and the project will run until Spring 2020. This is part of a £3.25 million investment from various funding sources, including OLEV, UK Innovate and ERDF, to help local businesses and residents prepare for the Zero Emission Zone which includes fixed and pop up street chargers and ultra-low emission buses. Councillor Tom Hayes, Executive Board Member for A Safer and Greener Environment, said: “Our Black Cab drivers are an absolute credit to the city of Oxford. Not only do Hackney carriage drivers move people around the city safely, they want to make the Zero Emission Zone a success. Together we’re determined to have a green and clean Black Cab fleet with the iconic London look. “But, taxi drivers need the council’s support to clean our air and still earn a living. When taxi drivers aren’t on the road, they aren’t earning, so I’m thrilled that the City Council’s commercial operation will begin servicing electric taxis. Drivers will save time and money by having Cowley Marsh repair facility on their doorstep. No longer would drivers have to take long trips away from Oxford to get their cars repaired, meaning we can speed up our Black Cab fleet’s journey from 0% zero-emission capable to 100% by 2025.” Simon Howick, Oxford Direct Services’ Managing Director, said: “ODS has considerable expertise servicing all types of fully electric vehicles given we currently maintain a fleet for Oxford City Council. Adding the TX taxi to this extends our portfolio and was based on thorough audit process which involved LEVC reviewing our Cowley Marsh facility and assessing the technical skill set of our staff.”