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Will 2024 be the year of extended taxi age limits?

Image credit: DALL.E (AI generated)

Amid escalating costs and environmental concerns, UK licensing authorities are beginning to look at taxi age limits, a move that could, and should, reshape the future of the taxi industry.

TaxiPoint has been reporting on the subject of taxi age limits since Autumn 2023, in particular covering long-term affordability and fostering a greener future in road-surface transportation. The strategy focuses on making taxi operations more economically feasible without relying heavily on

financial grants or significant investments.

The focus on electric zero-emission taxis intensified as the prohibitive costs associated with new technology began to impede their widespread adoption.

Contrary to initial predictions that electric vehicle (EV) costs would decrease with advancements in battery technology and cheaper manufacturing, unforeseen global events, including the pandemic and the conflict in Ukraine, have led to inflation and a surge in the cost of living.

For instance, the price of a LEVC TX Vista, currently at £62,719, and is expected to increase again as the Plug-in Taxi Grant (PiTG) is cut by £1,500 in April 2024. In addition, drivers are grappling with the rising costs of extended warranties, parts, and insurance rates, which are increasing above inflation levels.

The Department for Transport (DfT) recently updated its guidance, urging licensing authorities to eliminate age restrictions in taxi vehicle licensing. This updated guidance, released on 17 November, pinpoints the need to assess vehicles based on their compliance with required standards rather than age. The DfT's approach reflects an understanding of the financial barriers faced by the taxi industry, especially in adopting electric zero-emission vehicles.

Several councils are already responding to this shift. Wakefield Council has proposed a framework to extend the age limits of full battery electric vehicle to up to 20 years. Leicester City Council is conducting a consultation that could see age limits extended by up to four years. The City of Wolverhampton Council has been a forerunner in this area, having already exempted all vehicles with zero tailpipe emissions from age limits more than two years ago, a policy implemented to support drivers during the pandemic.

As 2024 unfolds, taxi vehicle licensing is set to be a pivotal area of focus for local authorities. If the goal is to ensure the presence of more accessible and environmentally friendly cabs in communities, making them more viable for operators is central to this policy. The taxi industry's move towards extended vehicle age limits represents a crucial step in balancing economic viability with environmental responsibility.


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