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Pressure on Heathrow grows as taxi drivers are priced out of using airport taxi chargers

The Taxi Feeder Park (TFP) holds around 440 cabs at full capacity. This is split between the north and south TFP. We have in excess of 1,000 regular drivers servicing the airport. On top of that, we have others that will ‘put on’ if they have dropped a passenger off.

There are 24,000 taxi drivers and 20,000 registered taxis. Of those, 13,000 are Heathrow Tag Holders, which allows them to enter the TFP if they wish. The Mayor of London has stated any newly registered taxi onto the London fleet from January 1st 2018, must be Zero Emissions Capable (ZEC). Currently the only vehicle satisfies that condition is the LEVX TX. Presently there are 1,200 registered in London. The fully electric Nissan e-NV200 Taxi is expected onto the London fleet very soon. The ZEC taxis are projected to rise to over 2,500 by the end of the year.

The Mayor is offering a number of grants to assist drivers in transferring over to a ZEC taxi. This coupled with the reduction of ‘life’ as a licenced London taxi from 15 years to 12 years (Euro 4 & 5 registered taxis), will mean the fleet will be moving over to ZEC taxis at a rapid rate over the next few years. The target the Mayor of London has set is to have 9,000 ZEC taxis (almost 50% of the current fleet) licenced in London by 2020.


If this target is met, it will mean the TFP will have over 500 regular drivers in a ZEC taxi servicing the airport - plus 6,500 tag holders with a ZEC taxi.

Currently we have 7 chargers to accommodate the existing 100+ ZEC drivers servicing the airport. They are 50kWh rapid chargers at a unit cost of £25,000 each, plus installation. Since the introduction of the high tariff set in November 2018, they have remained largely dormant. That is £175,000 of hardware going to waste. The tariff set by HAL is so high; it is cheaper to run the LEVC TX on the range extender petrol generator. This completely negates the ZEC capability of the vehicle, thus unnecessarily adding to the local pollution.

The full cost set by HAL is 0.322p per kWh and broken down as follows:

  • 0.102p Electricity Low Voltage – Supply

  • 0.164p Electricity Low Voltage – Infrastructure

  • 0.0532p VAT

  • 0.003p SWARCO 1% collection cost


At the tariff set by HAL, charging from empty to full:

 

  • LEVC TX’s 33kWh battery, of which only 25kWh is utilised = £8.05

  • Dynamo Nissan eNV200’s 40kWh battery = £12.88


The tariff set by HAL is more expensive than motorway service stations EV Chargers. It is the equivalent of asking every diesel taxi driver to pay motorway service station price for their fuel. HAL believe they are competitively priced, and we have proved to both Charanjit Brar (Chinny) and Colin Fox this is far from the case. The UK’s largest EV charging supplier, BP-Chargemaster, sell electricity at 0.108p per kWh (inclusive of VAT). Dedicated Transport for London (TFL) eTaxi chargers the price is 0.22p per kWh (inclusive of VAT).

HAL have committed to ensure all their vehicles airside and landside will be electric. This has to be commended. However, as part of the Heathrow 2.0 vision the ‘role of the Clean Vehicle Partnership’ states:

The Clean Vehicles Partnership (CVP) works with the airport's fleet operators to support Heathrow’s sustainability goals outlined in Heathrow 2.0 - the airports plan for sustainable growth. Heathrow 2.0 aims to establish Heathrow as a world-leading airport in reducing emissions from all sources of activity, both on and off airport.

The question that arises from this is, does the TFP and taxis form part of the ‘airport’s fleet operators’? In 2018, taxis from the terminal ranks undertook 773,720 journeys. Over the last 9 years taxis completed 6,497,058 journeys from the taxi ranks. Sadly, almost all of these journeys left the airport in a diesel taxi. If HAL are serious about reducing emissions, they need to assist the taxi trade. Drivers are doing their bit by purchasing, leasing or renting a ZEC taxi. We are being badly let down by the severe lack of infrastructure. TfL are woefully inadequate in providing enough charging points in London, and HAL do not seem interested in assisting the taxi trade at the TFP.

For every LEVC TX on the road, the average C02 savings (compared to a Euro 5 TX4) are 9.72 (metric) tons per year. Based solely on a presumed 1,000 regular drivers servicing Heathrow Airport, the C02 savings will be a whopping 9,720 (metric) tons per year. Calculate that across every Heathrow Tag Holder, these C02 savings are 126,360 (metric) tons per year. The taxi trade and Heathrow Airport are in a transition of reducing the carbon footprint. There is the proposed 3rd runway on the horizon. What better way than to highlight the reduction of 126,360 (metric) tons of C02, by ensuring the largest taxi rank in the world is servicing the airport emissions free.

Our proposal is to future proof the TFP with EV chargers, and at zero cost to HAL. We have spoken with the Department for Transport’s Office of Low Emissions Vehicles (OLEV). They have said there are grants available to assist in future proofing the TFP. The Mayor of London has a budget of £40m to assist taxi drivers in the move to a ZEC taxi.

We asked Freemantle, installers of the EV chargers in the TFP and AVA and winners of the Electrical Review Excellence Award for Innovation 2018 for Heathrow Airport EV Charging Installation, to provide a direct estimate to us for both the north and south TFP in order to produce a platform guide of possible costs.

The estimated cost to complete work in the north TFP is £2,339,000. The estimated cost to complete work in the south TFP is £3,006,500.

We do not need the 50kWh chargers we have. Both the north and south TFP need 22kWh AC chargers. Drivers will come in and begin to charge in the north TFP, and then finish charging once they move over to the south TFP.

We believe we will be able to use grants available from OLEV and the Mayor of London making sure this is cost neutral for HAL. We understand there will be future costs to be recovered, and below we have demonstrated how this can be achieved. This is a long term strategy, but one if implemented, would no doubt speed up the uptake of drivers transferring to a ZEC taxi. We understand HAL are unable to make a profit from the TFP. If this is correct, any excess monies can be used for the benefit of the TFP, by offsetting the ‘gate’ money.

HAL to set a TFP subscription fee of £10 per month, which would be separate from the ‘gate’ money. Based solely on the current 1,000 regular drivers that is £120,000 annually. If every Heathrow Tag Holder pays, that is £1,560,000 annually.

or

HAL to add a fixed 25% to the per kWh electricity supply cost – currently 0.102p, to achieve a price of 0.1275p (0.153p inclusive of VAT). If every driver undertakes 3 journeys a day, 5 days a week, 48 weeks a year and charge every time they enter - presuming they require 60kWh of charge (daily), that would equate to £7.65 (£9.18 inclusive of VAT) of electricity or £1,836.00 annually (£2,203.20 inclusive of VAT).

Multiply that by just the regular drivers, there is an annual electricity cost of £1,836,000 (£2,203,200 inclusive of VAT) – of which £1,468,800 is supply cost and £367,200 covers maintenance and infrastructure costs (£367,200 VAT).

Currently there is a lot of negativity surrounding HAL and the massive tariff set. The Prime Minister has questioned John Holland-Kaye (CEO Heathrow) regarding the infrastructure for taxis. Mike Brown (Commissioner for TfL) has said he will be meeting with the CEO at Heathrow regarding the infrastructure for taxis. Joerg Hofmann (LEVC CEO) has said he will be meeting with Chris Garton (Heathrow COO) regarding the infrastructure for taxis. The Mayor of London is being asked specific questions by the London Assembly, regarding the pricing and infrastructure for taxis.

London Assembly Members have gone to the media to highlight the high pricing and lack of infrastructure. The Green Party are questioning why drivers are being priced out of charging their vehicles, and choosing to run on the petrol generator. ‘Fully Charged’, an online program dedicated to EV’s, hosted by Robert Llewellyn and reaches millions of viewers have shown an interest in the story.

Our proposals are a massive PR win for both HAL and the taxi trade. HAL need to reduce the cost per kWh and HAL need to commit to upgrading the infrastructure to future proof the TFP. What a great story it would be to state in excess of 750,000 journeys annually leave the terminal ranks emissions free. We have shown HAL this can be achieved cost neutral, ensuring drivers are sold electricity at a sensible price plus recovering maintenance and infrastructure costs. 

 

Article by Brian Nayar and Paul Falcini of @etaxicharging

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