Taxi drivers in Coventry are being offered financial support to switch to electric-capable models, as part of an initiative launched today (5 September) by Coventry city council, backed by industry partners and Defra.
The Go Ultra Low Taxi scheme, will see Hackney carriage cab drivers offered a package of incentives to cover the switch to plug-in models.
Up to Â£1.2 million in funding is being offered for the scheme through the Office for Low Emission Vehicles and Defraâ€™s Air Quality fund. Partners include LEVC, which manufactures the TX eCity range-extended cab in nearby Ansty, technology firm Siemens, energy company ESB and taxi app Gett.
Drivers are being offered the chance to trial a TX eCity vehicle for period of up to 12 days. As part of the scheme, the first 60 drivers of electric taxis in the city will be offered a contribution towards their insurance costs, as well as a waiver of some licensing fees, valued at around Â£2,500.
Cllr Kamran Caan, the councilâ€™s Cabinet Member for Public Health and Sport said: â€œWe are committed to cutting air pollution in Coventry because we know that this will bring health benefits to people particularly vulnerable residents with pre-existing health conditions.
â€œElectric vehicles are the future both nationally and globally. I hope that Hackney cab drivers will take the opportunity to try out the loan scheme. The vehicles are built locally â€“ and the numbers of charging points are increasing all of the time.â€
A series of incentives are already available to taxi drivers looking to switch to plug-in models, with the higher cost of purchase, as well as insurance costs, seen as one of the barriers preventing drivers from switching.
Currently OLEV offers up to Â£7,500 through its Plug In Taxi grant scheme, while drivers have also been offered relief from Vehicle Excise Duty on certain models to offset the cost of purchase (see airqualitynews.com story).
Jesse Norman, Minister for Roads and the Future of Mobility, said: â€œBritainâ€™s black cabs are iconic around the world. That is why the government is supporting this initiative with Â£1.2 million, helping Coventry to champion these new electric models.
â€œThe government is committed to improving the countryâ€™s air quality and creating a low carbon economy, which is already worth billions. Low emission vehicles will be a key part of that transition, showing that we can meet our climate change obligations and also promote economic growth.â€
Another barrier to the take-up of electric taxis is thought to be the availability of charging infrastructure, which is being addressed in Coventry through the installation of around 39 rapid charging points, through a contract with ESB and Siemens.
Six rapid charging points have already been delivered as part of the contract, funded by both OLEV and through investment from ESB. Siemens will supply and maintain the multi-standard rapid charging units, which will use renewable electricity and will be free for trial participants.
Gareth Davis, head of EV solutions at ESB, said: â€œWe look forward to working with Coventry city council and all major stakeholders in the home of the British automotive industry on this ground-breaking project.
â€œESB and Siemens will set the highest standards of customer services, safety, quality and reliability, and we look forward to supporting Coventry and all of its citizens as they transition to sustainable, low-carbon motoring.â€
Additionally, drivers taking part in the scheme will pay zero commission on fares taken with the â€˜Gettâ€™ taxi app, for the first six months of use.