A London taxi driver has sparked outrage after a passenger's social media post went viral, revealing that the cabbie had refused to turn on the air conditioning during one of the hottest days of the year, claiming it ‘eats the battery’.
The LEVC TX, the electric taxi model widely used in London, is equipped with a dual-zone heating and air-conditioning system. This means that both the driver and passengers can independently adjust the temperature and fan speed. Additionally, the driver has the ability to control or disable the rear cabin's air conditioning from the central touchscreen.
The impact on battery life from using features such as lights and the radio is marginal and hardly noticeable. Just as in conventional petrol or diesel vehicles, having the lights on would not significantly affect fuel efficiency, and the same principle applies to the LEVC TX's battery range.
While using the air conditioning systems does draw more energy from the battery than the lights or radio, it is not of significant concern when considering the comfort of both the driver and passengers. Fulfilling a basic request for air conditioning is likely to result in thought to provide better tips, offsetting any additional cost, and preventing negative publicity that can harm the industry as a whole.
Lawrence Whittaker, owner of Lister Cars and CEO of the UK's car warranty firm Warranty Wise, shared his experience on social media during a sweltering taxi journey in the capital. He reported that when he requested to turn on the air conditioning due to being stuck in traffic and the intense heat, the driver refused, citing battery consumption as the reason.
Whittaker said via social media: “Just in a new LEVC Black Cab in London - all the windows down. I asked if we can have the air con on cause we’re stuck in traffic & it’s boiling!
“Response came back, no sorry cause it ‘eats the battery!!’ Welcome to the future.”
Whittaker's post gained widespread attention, reaching over 200,000 people and tarnishing the reputation of thousands of taxi drivers who provide air conditioned black cabs without quibble.
The response from most taxi drivers and industry insiders was one of shock and disapproval. Given the temperatures reaching 30°C that day, the incident received strong criticism, and many expressed their support for the passenger's right to a comfortable ride.
One taxi driver remarked: "Cab drivers are an odd bunch at times."
Some individuals even suggested that the driver should be reported and face questioning regarding their licensing.
In cases where drivers need to use air conditioning or heating for extended periods, some opt to switch the LEVC TX to "Save" mode. This mode utilises the petrol generator, extending the vehicle's range by a couple of hundred miles. With no need for range anxiety, taxi drivers should prioritise providing a higher level of service to paying customers, including the provision of air conditioning during hot weather.