Taxi and private hire drivers will get the chance to test electric vehicles to encourage them to switch, after Slough council received funding from the Government.
Over the next two years some drivers will be able to have a trial period testing an electric vehicle, be given incentives to change to an electric vehicle, and be the centre of an awareness campaign of the benefits.
The increase in the number of electric vehicles on the road replacing high mileage taxis and private hire vehicles, could also have a positive impact on air quality too, the council believes.
The council has been awarded £370,035 from the Defra Air Quality Grant Fund towards an electric taxi and private hire vehicle demonstration project.
The project is linked to the £157,500 already awarded by the Office for Zero Emission’s Ultra Low Emission Taxi Infrastructure Scheme to install seven rapid electric vehicle charge points in the borough for taxi priority use. They will be installed in the 2021/22 financial year.
The entire project is designed to assist the borough’s taxi and private hire drivers to make the transition to Ultra Low Emission Vehicles by 2025. This will then comply with the Slough vehicle licensing emission standards.
Fifty drivers will have the opportunity to use electric vehicles for up to 90 days to experience driving them in a professional capacity.
Other ways drivers will be encouraged to switch includes providing grants to new and existing electric car users towards operating costs to offset the initial higher outlay compared to traditional fuel vehicles.
There will also be a significant amount of work carried out to examine routes and the mileage of 25 licensed vehicles and compare it to costs and emissions of electric vehicles. The results will be shared with those drivers and also anonymised and shared with the borough’s taxi and private hire community to demonstrate the “real benefits” of switching to zero emission vehicles.
Cllr Rob Anderson, lead member for sustainable transport and the environment, said: “We are particularly pleased to have won this grant which will compliment our existing project and provide additional much needed support to our local taxi and private hire drivers.
“We will use this funding to demonstrate the feasibility, viability and affordability of owning an electric vehicle along with the availability of new electric charging infrastructure.
“Through these initiatives during the 22-month long programme, drivers will be able to get real world experience of running an electric vehicles with all the advantages and benefits before committing to full ownership.
“Not only do we expect there to be advantages to drivers using these cars but also massive advantages to the air quality all over the borough.”
The project is part of the council’s Low Emission Strategy programme aimed to improve air quality and health outcomes across the borough by reducing vehicle emissions through the accelerated uptake of cleaner fuels and technologies.
The Government is accelerating the shift to Zero Emission Vehicles and has brought forward the ban on sale of new cars and vans exclusively powered by petrol and diesel to 2030, 10 years earlier than originally planned.
The council’s Low Emission Strategy programme will help to prepare residents and businesses ready for the 2030 deadline.