The world’s most advanced electric taxis, designed and built in the West Midlands, have started appearing on the streets of Birmingham. The first range extended electric taxi has been licensed in the city – and a new dealership selling these vehicles has gone live today.
The West Midlands has historically been the home of taxi production in the UK – and LEVC (formerly known as The London Taxi Company) has built the hackney carriage in the region for the past 70 years. The electrification of this vehicle has come at a time when the West Midlands is looking to establish itself as an electric vehicle power house which may see Birmingham become host of the UK Formula-E race.
Road transport accounts for over 25% of Birmingham’s CO2 emissions and is a significant cause of poor air quality in the city. As such, the arrival of these purpose-built electrically driven vehicles will play a role in improving air quality in the city. In addition, Brummies will now get to experience the greater comfort and safety that comes with a taxi designed and built by motoring experts from across the West Midlands.
The first customer Mr Gurmail Bhatoa has worked in the taxi trade since 1996 and wanted to make the switch to a range extended electric vehicle to benefit from the lower cost of fuel and servicing. His new taxi, the TX, is already getting positive reviews – and the arrival of the vehicle will mean an improved passenger experience for those in the city.
Supporting the roll-out of the electric taxis, will be LEVC’s new dealership in the city. Paul Rigby has been operating Volvo’s main dealership in Birmingham for the past 8 years, and now runs a second dealership in Stourbridge. Mr Rigby has decided to enter the electric taxi market because of the growing focus on improving air quality in cities and towns across the West Midlands.
Chris Gubbey, CEO of LEVC said: “Our purpose-built, passenger focused taxi, has been designed with the intention of getting more people in the back of cabs – offering the safest, cleanest, quietest and smoothest taxi ride yet. We are delighted to have had the support of Birmingham drivers and Paul Rigby to deliver this vision for the taxi trade in the city.”
Paul Rigby, Managing Director of LEVC Birmingham said: “Across the UK, more people are beginning to move away from conventional internal combustion engine vehicles, LEVC is leading this transition in the taxi and commercial vehicle markets – and, along with Volvo and other Geely owned companies, is at the forefront of the push to electrically driven vehicles. I wanted to help lead this transition in Birmingham.”
To support this commitment to electric taxis, the dealership has hired a taxi industry expert, ensured key members of the staff have undergone all the key technical training and is making further investments to improve charging infrastructure at the dealership.
Birmingham has already been given £2.9 million by the Department for Transport to install up to 200 charge points for electric cabbies. Birmingham City Council is also building a dedicated electric vehicle charging facility at Tyseley Energy Park on the outskirts of the city. The development of the Tyseley charging hub could create 135 jobs.