Coventry unveils Go Electric Taxi scheme

Coventry City Council has launched what it claims is the UK's "most comprehensive" scheme for incentivising taxi drivers to switch to electric vehicles (EVs).

The programme sees the Council partner up with cab manufacturer LEVC, energy firm ESB, technology giant Siemens and ride-hailing app Gett.

Under the scheme, called Go Electric Taxi, the first 60 cab drivers to make the EV switch will receive a £2,500 cost-saving incentive, consisting of a contribution towards their insurance costs as well as a waiver of several licensing fees.

All Hackney Carriage owners will also be offered the chance to take one of LEVC’s models for an extended two-week test-drive as part of the scheme.

Additionally, drivers who make the switch will benefit from paying zero commission on all fares booked through the Gett ride-hailing app for a six-month period.

Coventry City’s Council’s Cabinet Member for Public Health and Sport, Kamran Caan, said the scheme will help EVs to become “the norm” in the area in the near future.

“EVs are the future – both nationally and globally,” Caan said. “We are committed to cutting air pollution here in Coventry because we know that this will bring health benefits to people particularly vulnerable residents with pre-existing health conditions.”

As well as financial backing from its business partners, Coventry City Council received a total of £1.2m in Government funding to launch the scheme. Part of this investment came from the Office of Low Emission Vehicles, with the remainder being contributed through Defra’s Air Quality Fund.

The Go Electric Taxi launch was welcomed by Roads and Future Mobility minister Jesse Norman, who claimed it would help to decarbonise some of the UK’s most iconic vehicles.

“Low-emission vehicles will be a key part of the transition [to a low-carbon economy], showing that we can meet our climate change obligations and also promote economic growth,” she said.

To support the anticipated EV uptake, Siemens and ESB will jointly fund the installation of 39 public rapid charge points across the city, with the first six unveiled this week.

The companies said in a statement that the infrastructure is intended to support drivers who can’t charge at home, after research from the Department for Transport (DfT) identified a lack of charging infrastructure as one of the biggest barriers to EV adoption in the UK.

Low-emission transition

The launch of the scheme comes shortly after the Mayor of London’s requirement for all newly-licensed black cabs to be electric or plug-in hybrids came into effect. To support the regulation, which applies to all black cabs sold in the UK, Transport for London (TfL) has pledged to invest £18m in upgrading the capital’s power system.

After the requirement was announced in 2017, LEVC, formerly known as The London Taxi Company, opened a £300m plant in Coventry to produce electric black cabs for the UK and international markets. The plant has a capacity of 20,000 vehicles a year. 

There are currently around 38,000 black cabs in operation in the UK, according to the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS). Each cab is currently required to be replaced after 15 years of service, meaning the switch to electrified versions is likely to take several years to complete.

Sarah George

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