Electric charging network ‘key’ to improving air quality

Establishing a network of electric vehicle charging stations in London is the key to the city meeting its air quality improvement targets, according to Nissan executive vice president Andy Palmer.

The company has revealed its aim to have a fully electricity powered taxi, with zero emissions, road-tested on the streets of London by mid 2013, and available to taxi drivers in 2014.

Nissan have unveiled their aim to have a fully electric version of their NV200 taxi available to London’s taxi drivers by 2014

This follows the unveiling of its fuel-efficient diesel powered NV200 taxi in London today (August 6), which, it claims would see CO2 emissions fall by 39,000 metric tonnes per year if it were to replace the city’s current taxi fleet.

Nissan says the diesel powered vehicle achieves greater fuel efficiency than existing models due to having a smaller, 1.5 litre engine, compared to the 2.5 litre engine in standard cabs, and its lighter chassis.

It is also estimated that the vehicle would see nitrogen oxide (NOx) and particulate emissions reduced by up to 135 metric tonnes per year, compared to vehicles currently in use.

And, in order to pave the way for more electric vehicles on the road, Mr Palmer said that the car industry needed to work alongside government to ensure the charging infrastructure could be put in place.

He said: “Charging is the big question, and there needs to be collaboration with government to make this happen. We need to look at how many chargers we need and where they are located, so there is a lot of work to realise the Mayor’s aim to reduce emissions in London.

“The ball has been in the manufacturer’s court for a while but it is now up to the cities to see if they can get the infrastructure in place.”

Fuel

Mr Palmer also said that Nissan sees significant benefits in using electric, rather than hydrogen fuelled vehicles, which he said could be hindered by the high cost of introducing a hydrogen charging network into the UK.

A fleet of five hydrogen fuelled taxis is being tested in London, but currently only three hydrogen charging points are in operation in the UK. And, delays to the opening of a charging station at Heathrow meant that London’s test fleet had to be transported to Swindon for refuelling last week (see AirQualityNews.com story).

Mr Palmer added: “The benefit of electric vehicles is that every driver has access to an electricity supply, the cost to set up a vehicle charger is around £8000, but for hydrogen the amount needed to install a charging point is significantly higher.

“Fuel cells have less limitations on the range that vehicles can travel, but the limitations in terms of capital expenditure are greater. It is very much reliant on charging infrastructure, but I think it [electricity] is the way to go.”

Commenting on the unveiling of the NV200 by Nissan, Mayor of London Boris Johnson, said: “Improving air quality in London is one of the most important challenges I face as Mayor. Having taken the significant step of introducing the first age limit for taxis in London, I am absolutely delighted that manufacturers are stepping up to the plate and are responding to the challenge I set in my air quality strategy to reduce taxi emissions and improve efficiency. I look forward to when a fully competitive model comes to market.”

According to Nissan, there are currently around 22,000 black cabs operating in London, many of which are diesel powered and are estimated to produce up to 20% of the city’s vehicle emissions.

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