London’s iconic black cabs have turned a corner and there are now more green vehicles on the capital’s roads than the traditional diesel models.
Latest figures from Transport for London reveal that 43% of London’s fleet of almost 15,000 black taxis are now LEVC TX zero-emission capable (ZEC) or electric, with 6,352 TXe and Dynamo taxis now licensed in the capital.
But, as reported by Taxi Point, the change has not come cheap. With prices starting at £56,000, £400 million has been invested in greener black cabs by individual drivers and small businesses since the model hit London’s streets in 2018.
While that hefty price tag has required a huge investment, the ZEC cabs have delivered huge benefits to the environment, with global C02 emissions being reduced by 144,000 tonnes, as well as saving drivers from congestion and clean air charges.
This is great news, especially as Transport for London found that the traditional diesel cabs were a significant contributor to poor air quality in the capital, creating 25% of all transport nitrous oxide in central London.
And it means that more than 1,300 of the greener black cabs have been sold in eight months, with LEVC announcing in April that it had sold its 5,000th TX taxi in London.
At the time, LVEC announced that the 5,000-strong fleet had travelled 307 million miles and more than two million passenger journeys have been taken in electric TX taxis in London alone.
At the same time, the diesel TX4 cab remained the most popular vehicle licensed in London, with 6,580 TX4 on the capital’s roads, although the ZEC models were hot on its heels and have now overtake it.
The success follows a number of initiatives by TfL to encourage black cab drivers to make the switch. From 2018, all taxis being licensed for the first time in London had to be zero-emission capable, with CO2 emissions of no more than 50g/km and a minimum 30 mile zero-emission range. This meant first-time licenses would no longer be granted for diesel taxis.
As part of the drive to help cabbies make the switch, TfL helped fund a government-led plug-in vehicle grant, giving taxi drivers up to £7,500 off the price of a new ZEC taxi, as well as grants to help drivers install chargers for their vehicles.
Significant financial investment is required to make the change, but being a London black cab driver is a career, not a job. Having passed The Knowledge test to earn their green or yellow badges demonstrates that they are committed to their calling and it is great to see this iconic British taxi tradition continuing in an era of cleaner motoring, especially on the city’s congested streets.
The electric black cabs have been created specifically to cater for London’s taxi fleet. According to LVEC, the TX Dynamo has a range of 318 miles and is always electrically driven, with the 1.5 litre petrol engine range extender to eliminate range anxiety. The company stresses that the range extender recharges the drive battery which powers the taxi’s electric motor and there is no connection between the range extender and the electric drive motor.
The range extender mode can also be disabled so that taxi can be operated as a pure EV.
LEVC also points out that drivers benefit from significant fuel savings compared to traditional diesel models, lower maintenance costs and longer service intervals.
While there are concerns about making the switch to EVs, especially regarding range and charging, it is great to see innovation being used to help keep an iconic part of British history on the streets.
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