Bolt launches new pilot to help London minicab drivers convert to electric vehicles

Image credit: Bolt

Private hire operator Bolt is launching a pilot to encourage its London-based ride-hailing drivers to transition to electric vehicles.

The announcement comes following input via surveys with its drivers. According to the firm, the pilot will work towards four objectives and feature various financial, educational and environmental initiatives that address the most commonly held barriers to electric vehicle usage.

Bolt research found that only 42% of its ride-hailing drivers had sufficient knowledge of London’s electric vehicle charging infrastructure. As a result, a portion of the funds is being put towards installing EV charging points, in partnership with public charging solutions firm ubitricity.

The two companies will identify the neighbourhoods where Bolt’s most frequent drivers - who currently don’t drive an electric vehicle - reside. Furthermore, Bolt will extend this research with the help of relevant councils and policy makers to identify the role the ride-hailing industry can play in its transition to zero emission vehicles.

The Bolt research also found that 81% of drivers are likely to consider an electric vehicle for their next private hire car, but only 50% know the typical cost of charging. As a result the ride-hailing firm will develop a tool which calculates the total cost of owning an electric vehicle.

Amongst range anxiety and lack of knowledge about charging infrastructure, the upfront cost of purchasing an electric vehicle is often referred to as a barrier to transitioning to an electric vehicle.

As part of the Zero Emission Transition pilot, Bolt has partnered with PCO car hire company Splend to offer a package - including a brand new electric vehicle, insurance, servicing and maintenance - to drivers considering the shift to EV ownership. The two companies have committed to move 500 drivers into EV vehicles in the first half of 2021.

Sam Raciti, Bolt UK General Manager, said: “The Mayor of London, Transport for London and the wider UK government have been forthcoming with initiatives that encourage citizens to consider their carbon emissions, and should be applauded for this. 50,000 drivers registered on the Bolt platform are moving more than two million passengers around London. We too need to contribute on a local level to supplement our Europe-wide Green Plan. Global research consistently reports that a combination of cost, range and charging infrastructure are the three biggest barriers to EV ownership, with our own analysis also suggesting as much. Therefore, we believe it’s obvious that all three factors need to be addressed.

Image credit: Bolt

“We’re confident that the groundwork being laid by our Zero Emission Transition pilot will help identify the mechanics that are most efficient at getting Bolt drivers into electric vehicles, and are excited at the potential benefit this could have for our drivers and the wider city.”

Daniel Bentham, Managing Director of ubitricity, said: “For the UK to meet its carbon emission and air quality ambitions, we need a rapid transition to electric vehicles. When you compare driving patterns, a taxi covers five times more mileage per year than the average car. So helping taxi drivers switch to EVs sooner by solving their charging worries around cost and convenience, delivers a large and quick gain against local authorities’ climate change and air quality goals.

“Our growing network of 2,500 public charge points brings easy, good value EV charging to the doorsteps of people who park in the street. By working together, Bolt and ubitricity can help local authorities accelerate the roll-out of EV charging infrastructure for the taxi community and clean the air faster for all of us.

“This kind of collaboration gets the right charging technology installed in the right places cost-effectively. It’s a great way of unlocking the benefits of providing Electricity to Everyone, Everywhere.”