Nine distinctive electric taxis adorned in a new green and blue livery, as part of a wireless charging electric vehicle trial funded by the Office for Zero Emission Vehicles (OZEV), will arrive in Nottingham in the coming months.
Five plug-in hybrid LEVC TX Electric Taxis, and four electric Nissan Dynamo taxis, will promote the WiCET (Wireless Charging of Electric Taxis) branding, with "this electric taxi will charge wirelessly" emblazoned over concentric rings that signify the wireless power transfer.
The taxis will be available on Nottingham’s streets for hail by the general public as they capture vehicle data for the trial, including journey distances and battery level. Posters inside the taxis will help inform passengers how wireless charging works and the benefits of charging wirelessly.
WiCET is a £4.47 million project that aims to demonstrate the commercial and technical viability of deploying wireless charging for electric Hackney Carriages in medium and large cities.
The project receives funding from the Office for Zero Emission Vehicles (OZEV), is supported by Innovate UK, and the consortium, led by Cenex, involving: Coventry University, Hanger 19, Nottingham City Council, Shell Research Limited, Sprint Power, and Transport for London.
The first two WiCET electric taxis were fitted with wireless charging technology earlier this Summer, and the remaining vehicles will be wirelessly enabled at the beginning of next year.
Wireless EV charging occurs when a compatible vehicle is stationary over a wireless induction pad which can be built into the road's surface, to top up battery power. This offers a convenient alternative to conventional plug-in chargepoints without the need for cables. The technology is similar to that already used for wireless mobile phone charging.
The technology will help provide better service availability for passengers and allow more time collecting fares for taxi drivers. Charging the taxi wirelessly through short bursts will also help reduce range anxiety and optimise battery usage.
The convenience of wireless charging makes electric vehicles a more desirable proposition for taxi drivers, while also improving local air quality, reducing noise pollution and cutting carbon emissions across towns and cities.
The livery will be on the taxis for the duration of the trial, which is due to complete by March 2022.
Abdul Chowdhury, Head of Innovation, Office for Zero Emission Vehicles (OZEV), said: “Investment in research and development is key to our mission of putting the UK at the forefront of the design, manufacture and use of zero emission vehicles. By supporting these innovative technologies, we are helping to deliver our road transport decarbonisation goals, whilst anchoring economic activity across the UK.
“The WiCET project is part of our diverse innovation programme looking to address the challenges associated with the transition to zero emission vehicles. Wireless charging technology has clear commercial and consumer experience opportunities but most importantly could help address some accessibility challenges associated with charging an EV.”
Councillor Sally Longford, Portfolio Holder for Energy and Environment at Nottingham City Council, said: “It’s exciting to see the vehicles with their new, eye-catching livery.
“While we’re proud that Nottingham’s taxi fleet already boasts a large number of electric taxis, wireless charging is the next step to make them even more convenient and easier for drivers to use – and no need for cables on our taxi ranks!
“Making our taxis cleaner will help to improve air quality in the city, and help us reach our goal of becoming the UK’s first carbon neutral city by 2028. We’ve had a lot of positive feedback from passengers too about how much quieter and pleasant the electric taxis are. I’m looking forward to seeing this new technology trialled on our streets”.
Matthew Knight, Hardware Trials & Data Integration Lead at Cenex, said: “Getting these WiCET taxis on the road is great news for taxi drivers and the people of Nottingham, and it is an important first step in demonstrating the technology works in the real world.
“A key part of transitioning to zero emission electric vehicles is making charging easy and convenient for all users; this wireless charging solution will enable taxi drivers to spend more time on the road rather than waiting to top up their vehicle.
“The striking wrap designs will stand out on the Nottingham roads, and we hope anyone who sees them will be interested in learning more about the project and the technology.”