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BUSINESS ECONOMICS OVER EMISSIONS: Taxi drivers shun rapid charging amid rising costs

Electric vehicles (EVs) were originally hailed as the future for eco-friendly and cost-effective taxi transport. However, the anticipated surge towards cabbies queuing to use public rapid charging points has hit a roadblock, with many drivers opting for traditional petrol pumps over the once-lauded electric solution.

The transition to electric taxis was underpinned by the establishment of a comprehensive network of rapid chargers, intended to support early adopters of commercial electric vehicles. Initially, the low-cost and sometimes free charging options presented an attractive alternative to petrol, encouraging a wave of taxi drivers to make the switch.

However, the landscape has drastically changed. The escalation of a cost of living crisis, the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, and the introduction of VAT on public charging points has led to a sharp increase in energy prices. Consequently, the cost of using rapid chargers now rivals, or in some cases exceeds, that of petrol, prompting drivers to reconsider their refuelling options.

For taxi operators, particularly those in London and other major cities who have invested in the LEVC TX electric range-extended taxis, the decision often boils down to economics. With the option to use either electricity or petrol, many are finding the latter more financially viable due to comparable costs and faster refuelling times.

Drivers with access to home charging stations continue to charge-up and still stand to benefit from significant savings compared to petrol, without the downtime associated with public charging points. This disparity highlights a critical challenge in promoting the use of rapid chargers among taxi professionals.

The taxi industry's commitment to environmental sustainability is clear with £100’s of millions already invested in Zero Emission Capable (ZEC) taxis, yet the decision to opt for electric or petrol is predominantly driven by business considerations. As vehicle and insurance costs climb, the financial implications of fuel choices become increasingly pivotal.

One of the major barriers to the adoption of public rapid charging has been identified as the VAT levied on these services. Following a Government clarification, VAT on public charge points was set at 20%, a substantial increase from the previously lower rate, discouraging many drivers from using these facilities.

Industry advocates argue that removing VAT on public charging points could significantly bolster the shift towards electric taxis, aligning with national environmental goals and supporting the taxi trade's move towards a more sustainable future.


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