UK first as ‘Go Electric Taxi’ scheme is launched in Coventry

Coventry City Council has launched a unique scheme to encourage cab drivers to move to electric vehicles, supported by the London Electric Vehicle Company (LEVC), the Irish energy company ESB, Siemens and taxi app Gett.
UK first as ‘Go Electric Taxi’ scheme is launched in Coventry
Courtesy of LEVC

Coventry’s “Go Electric Taxi” scheme forms part of an ambitious programme to move towards an electrically-driven taxi fleet in the city. The initiative includes the opportunity for a two-week test drive for all Coventry Hackney cab drivers, extended a £2,500 incentive for the first electric taxi orders, free electric charging during the trial and zero commission fares on taxi app bookings.

To ensure that drivers who can’t charge at home can benefit from the lower fuel costs of electric vehicle ownership, it was also announced that the first six of 39 rapid charge points have been installed by ESB and Siemens.

The scheme is funded by money from the Office of Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV), the DEFRA’s Air Quality fund as well as the companies supporting the project. The new electric taxis loan scheme and charging points are part of a city-wide drive to cut air pollution and has the backing of the Council and Joint Air Quality Unit.

An event is taking place today (Wednesday 5th September) at Coventry railway station in order to enable Coventry cabbies to take a closer look at the new state-of-the-art TX Electric Taxi, and sign up to a 12 day loan scheme.

Go Electric Taxi aims to speed up the modernisation of the Coventry taxi fleet and offer a premium, better value, service for Coventarians. All these vehicles will offer laptop charging, mobile phone charging, free wifi, card payment – and zero emission capable driving. Two thirds of Coventry residents have already said that they would specifically choose an electric taxi, if given the option.

Cllr Kamran Caan, the Council’s Cabinet Member for Public Health and Sport said that in future year’s electric vehicles would be the norm.

 “We 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” added Mr Caan. “Electric 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 – and the numbers of charging points are increasing all of the time.”

Cllr Jayne Innes, Cabinet Member for City Services in Coventry, said that she was keen to support local cabbies in helping them to look at options for maintaining their high standards of services.

As part of the scheme, the first 60 drivers of electric taxis in the city will benefit from a significant contribution towards their insurance costs, as well as a waiver of several licensing fees, this is valued at around £2,500. The scheme has been funded by grants from the Office of Low Emission Vehicles and the Government’s Joint Air Quality Unit.

“Britain’s black cabs are iconic around the world” said Jesse Norman, Minister for Roads and the Future of Mobility. “That is why the Government is supporting this initiative with £1.2 million, helping Coventry to champion these new electric models. The Government is committed to improving the country’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.”

Among those at the event will be Kartar Sabraiwal, aged 59 who has purchased one of the new TX models, his 6th Coventry taxi. Mr Sabraiwal said that he made the investment because it would slash his fuel bills and said that it would help him make financial savings in the future as well as improve air quality. Mr Sabraiwal covers 70 - 100 miles a day and estimates he will save £400 a month from making the switch.

In addition, the project aims to tackle some of the biggest barriers to EV uptake – which includes lack of familiarity with technology and concerns about EV charging infrastructure. In order to boost understanding of EV technology amongst cab drivers, the scheme will see four LEVC TXs used as extended test drive vehicles – offering Coventry cab drivers a chance to see how an electric vehicle could fit in with their working habits.

LEVC has been producing the TX eCity at its £325m Coventry factory since the start of the year, although most of its vehicles have been sold in London to date. LEVC currently employs around 800 people in the city, and as production ramps up will employ around 1,500 people.

Alongside the launch of the Go Electric Taxi scheme, it was also announced that ESB and Siemens have won the contract to provide rapid charging infrastructure for all electric vehicle drivers in Coventry. Siemens and ESB are installing and operating 39 rapid charging points across Coventry. So far, six rapid chargers have been installed by ESB, and it is intended that these sites will be augmented by the creation of several EV rapid charging hubs in the city. It forms part of an Ultra-Low Emission Vehicle Infrastructure Scheme.

Under this initiative, the rapid charging network in the City will be funded by both the UK Office of Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) and investment by ESB. Siemens will supply and maintain the multi-standard rapid charging units. All rapid charging points in Coventry and across the wider ESB EV Solutions Network use 100 percent renewable electricity and charging at these units will be free for trial participants.

Finally - all new electric cabbies can benefit from zero commission on all fares taken with Gett taxi App for the first six months (sign up is free). Meaning that the new cabs will be turning up for lucky customers of the Gett app in Coventry.

Image: Electric black cab (Courtesy of LEVC)

For additional information:

London Electric Vehicle Company (LEVC)

Coventry City Council

Electric Supply Board (ESB)

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