One of the silent success stories of 2018 was the rapid uptake of electric taxis by London’s Black Cab drivers. Last year, London’s cabbies invested over £60m of their own money to move away from diesel vehicles in order to do their bit to make the capital’s air cleaner. However, the transition is being hindered by concerns about the security of the sector, the upfront cost of the vehicle and problems with the charging infrastructure.
A report published today by TaxiPoint, the taxi industry’s biggest independent publication, has captured the views of over 700 London taxi drivers and highlights a number of the challenges they face moving to electric vehicles.
Since 1st January 2018, regulators Transport for London (TfL) introduced licensing requirements to reduce emissions from the taxi fleet by phasing out diesel taxis and increasing the number of zero emission vehicles in the capital. The only model currently available, the LEVC TX Taxi, has proven extremely popular with drivers. 68% of drivers rate the overall experience of the taxi as “Excellent” and a further 26% “Good”.
Cabbies experienced in driving the LEVC TX taxi did however highlight concerns around the charging network in London. Over 60% of drivers who own or rent the vehicle experience faulty chargers every week and all 100% of drivers thought London needed more rapid chargers to fuel their vehicles. 45% of drivers stated that charging on London’s roads was “usually difficult”.
So far approximately 1,000 electric taxis have been purchased UK-wide, but some drivers remain cautious. Just one in ten cabbies want to remain in their current diesel vehicle but over 55% of drivers yet to make the change say they are unlikely to go electric in the next 5 years. The three biggest concerns holding cabbies back are the initial cost of the taxi (78.5%), the stability of the taxi industry (70.8%) and the current charging network (62%).
The cost of the LEVC TX vehicle, the only electric taxi on the market in London, is set at £57,099. This includes OLEV Plug in Taxi Grant of £7,500 which is due to end next year. Finance packages on offer to drivers can cost upwards of £67,000. However, many drivers can realise substantial fuel savings when operating the vehicle.
Steve McNamara, General Secretary of The Licensed Taxi Drivers’ Association, said: “This clearly shows that there is massive appetite within the trade for this modern, clean and fuel efficient vehicle. The well known downsides of price, availability and the lack of charging infrastructure are also clearly indicated in this revealing and groundbreaking survey”
Perry Richardson, Founder and Chief Editor of UK taxi publication TaxiPoint, said: “TaxiPoint are delighted to have been able to capture the views of licensed taxi drivers as they move from diesel to electric. For those that have experienced the vehicle, it has proven popular and feedback is overwhelmingly positive. However, if progress is to accelerate with the move to electric, our report would certainly suggest that more needs to be done across the industry to support drivers and address concerns around costs, the stability of the trade and the charging network, amongst others.”