Northumberland-based Phoenix Taxis has become the first operator to embrace the zero-emissions all-electric Mercedes-Benz eVito.
The long L2 Tourer PRO variant which offers flexible seating for up to eight passengers has been supplied by North-East Dealer Bell Truck and Van. The deal agreed represents a year-long Mercedes-Benz Finance contract hire agreement.
The Mercedes-Benz eVito, licensed as a Hackney Carriage by Northumberland County Council, produces zero tailpipe emissions and allows customers to meet their environmental targets without having to compromise on practicality or performance.
Phoenix Taxis is a family-run business with headquarters in Blyth, and a fleet of more than 200 vehicles serving customers in Northumberland and on Tyneside.
The company’s Business Manager, Michael Carling, said: “We take pride at Phoenix Taxis in being at the forefront of efforts to minimise carbon emissions. We already have 50 battery-powered cars on the road, but the eVito represents a new and exciting chapter in our company’s success story.
“It’s our first electric vehicle capable of carrying eight passengers. We’re limited at the moment by social distancing restrictions, of course, but this capacity puts us in prime position to meet demand as soon as these are lifted.
“We’ll be evaluating the eVito’s performance and usability over the next 12 months. The early signs are very promising, though. It’s extremely smooth and quiet, so provides a very pleasant ride for our driver and passengers. The running costs are very low, plus it’s super clean.”
The eVito is currently assigned to a ‘school run’ contract, collecting pupils of a local special-needs school – which remains open during the latest lockdown – from their homes in the morning, and dropping them off at the end of the day. It is also undertaking general private hire duties in between.
Mr Carling added: “The electric drivetrain is perfect for this kind of work. There’s no gearbox to worry about, and the motor’s full torque is available almost immediately, making stop-start driving very easy.
“The simplicity of the design, with many fewer moving parts than a combustion engine, also means there’s far less to go wrong, so we’re looking forward to a very high level of uptime as well as attractive costs per-mile. It all adds up to a very attractive package.”
The eVito’s electric motor produces 114 hp and drives the front wheels via a single-speed automatic transmission. Acceleration is instantaneous. Top speed is restricted as standard to 50 mph (80 km/h), although this can be increased on request. The steering wheel-mounted selectors allows drivers to choose between C, E and E+ (Comfort, Eco and Extended range) settings.
The eVito’s range of 90-plus miles – supplemented by recuperative charging but reduced by constant driving with a full load – is comfortably sufficient for Phoenix Taxi’s school contract and urban private hire work.
The eVito also comes with Mercedes PRO connect as standard. This advanced manufacturer solution provides operators with an array of fast, efficient and cost-effective vehicle management service packages. Vehicle data is analysed in real time – everything from maintenance status to GPS position and charging can be monitored. Additional dedicated electric features allow customers, for example, to locate a charge station, optimise route planning, remotely check the charge status of the vehicle, and pre-condition its temperature ahead of the journey.
Phoenix Taxis offers four, six and eight-seater private hire vehicles as well as executive cars for private hire and business accounts, which can be booked either over the telephone, online from a computer or by a dedicated smartphone app. It also runs coaches with up to 53 seats for group travel – when conditions allow.