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The future could be wireless for black cabs

Wireless black cab

Black cabs are charging their taxis wirelessly as part of a trial to bring more electric vehicles into the fleet and on to our roads.

One of the biggest obstacles to using EVs in the taxi fleet is range, with public hire and private hire drivers expressing concerns that the distance they can travel before having to recharge will prevent them operating efficiently.

But being able to top up their batteries every time their black cab is parked at the taxi rank makes it easier to operate the same as they do now.

This has led to the UK’s first wireless chargers being installed at a public hire taxi rank outside Nottingham’s railway station as part of a pilot to cut pollution by encouraging taxi drivers to switch to electric cabs.

Under the trial, nine black cabs have been adapted so they can charge while they are parked at the taxi rank waiting for fares.

The trial has been paid for with £930,000 from the government’s Wireless Charging of Electric Taxis scheme.

In order to charge their electric black cabs, drivers don’t even have to get out of their vehicles – they simply park over pads built into the rank and the taxi’s battery starts charging.

Under the scheme, drivers have volunteered to test the electric cabs to help identify the pros and cons of the new technology and iron out any problems.

The initiative has been led by the Loughborough-based Centre of Excellence for Low Carbon and Fuel Cell Technologies, which has worked with partners including Nottingham City Council and Transport for London. The capital has the highest number of electric black cabs in the UK and schemes such as wireless charging could help make the taxi fleet even greener.

In Nottingham, the wireless charging scheme is not only seen as a boost for the city which wants to be the first to become carbon neutral, but the country as a whole.

Councillor Audra Wynter, the council’s portfolio holder for highways, transport and parks, said: “I’m delighted to see Nottingham’s UK-leading wireless taxis hit the streets.

“This amazing new technology will make it easy and convenient for taxi drivers to charge their vehicles on-street between passengers and make a big difference in local air quality.

“This is another example of Nottingham leading the way in transport innovation, as we lead the country to become carbon neutral by 2028.”

The taxi pilot is the first step towards sustainable full EV transport. As technology continues to improve, the best way to help cars, vans, buses and lories make the switch to electric might be to have a range of charging solutions on offer, from plug-in fast chargers to wireless chargers in taxi ranks and car parks.

Richard Sander, WiCET project manager and technical specialist at Cenex, said: “Wireless charging has the potential for effective deployment across a wide range of applications from public transport to emergency vehicles and mobility solutions, and the results from our research will go on to inform future deployments.

“We are extremely proud to be starting the first physical trial of wireless charging of taxis in the UK here in Nottingham.

“This is a big step in understanding and demonstrating the potential of wireless charging as a core technology in the electric vehicle transition.”

It is good to see the Nottingham scheme get under way and it’s fantastic that black cabs, who need to be versatile and flexible, will be helping to shape the future of EV charging

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