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UNPLUGGED: ESB EV charging price hike makes it CHEAPER to run taxi off petrol range extender

Updated: Nov 8, 2022

Image credit: Ross Campbell

Taxi drivers were dismayed at new electric black cab charging rates released by one provider that now astonishingly makes it CHEAPER to run on petrol range extenders than it does on pure electric.

ESB Energy, one of London’s leading rapid charge point providers, announced their new pricing plan to electric taxi drivers this week.

Those with a London Taxi Membership can now look forward to paying a massive 69p per kWh. Taxi drivers in Birmingham will pay 73p and those in Coventry 68p.

That ESB Energy increase now makes it CHEAPER for LEVC TX owners to run off the range extending petrol fuel source.

Taxi drivers in the midst of a fuel price crisis have said they will no longer charge their cabs on the public chargers in a bid to keep running costs lower. The latest price hike also brings into question why Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) vehicles are being removed in the current economic climate.

It should however be noted that because of the gap between petrol and diesel, there are still significant financial savings to be had between the TX and TX4 using their respective ICEs.

One London taxi driver, Gary Long, said: “So ESB EV Solutions have just hiked their charging costs to 69p a kWh for the London market. Another one that can jog on, as we’re not a cash cow for you or anyone.”

Another cabbie said: “There is no point using them no more. The time you pay for the charge and the downtime it works out cheaper to put £10 of petrol in and you will get more miles.”

Taxi drivers charging at home can still access much cheaper domestic rates. However, not all taxi drivers have access to off-street parking and charging facilities.

In a report conducted by TfL in 2019 it was estimated that over FORTY percent of London’s cabbies will NEVER have capability to charge electric taxis from home.

According to the Taxi and Private Hire Licensee Customer Satisfaction Survey (CSS), conducted by regulators TfL, nearly half (47%) of taxi drivers kept their vehicle at home on their driveway and a further 9% parked their taxi in a garage at home.

44% of those surveyed did NOT have the capability to install a home vehicle charging unit and would rely on public and dedicated charging facilities.

Despite a turbulent few years which has seen a global pandemic, war in Russia and now an economic crisis, cabbies have dug deep to help the Mayor of London deliver on his clean air strategy.

The price of a London taxi costs upwards of £55,000, which is around £10,000 more than its diesel predecessor. Drivers making the shift were however lured in by the big fuel savings made using the electric fuel option.

Those fuel savings have been eroded by the rapid rise in energy for both those that charge at home and those that rely on public chargepoints. Taxi drivers using public chargepoints have also had to contend with the controversial introduction of VAT.

According to the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, TfL DID NOT set cost caps with suppliers for its existing rapid chargepoints, including those dedicated to electric taxis.

London Assembly Member (AM) Keith Prince asked the Mayor of London what help and support he and TfL would provide for drivers who were told significant energy fuel savings would mitigate the cost of these ‘very expensive ZEC vehicles’.

The Conservative AM also highlighted another recent tariff fee increase by bp Pulse, who are one of the main chargepoint suppliers in the capital.

Sadiq Khan responded: “Transport for London (TfL) introduced zero emission capable (ZEC) licensing requirements for taxis in January 2018 to help tackle London’s toxic air. The diesel taxi fleet has been a significant contributor to poor air quality, particularly in central London.

“Taxi drivers have had financial support to switch to cleaner taxis with taxi delicensing payments of up to £10,000 per vehicle, in addition to grants of up to £7,500 for new ZEC taxis. The costs of using public rapid charging infrastructure have increased in line with increases in the costs of electricity. Many taxi drivers charge their vehicles at home. and while domestic rates are also rising, they are still proportionately cheaper, allowing taxi drivers to continue benefiting from lower running costs.

“TfL did not set cost caps with suppliers for its existing rapid charge points, including those dedicated to electric taxis, as these are operated on a commercial basis via TfL’s procurement framework. However, TfL has done everything possible through this framework to make sure fair and reasonable pricing is applied. bp Pulse’s current tariff price is between 52p and 65p per kWh for its 50kW rapid charge points, which is broadly equivalent to other charge point operators.”


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