The city of Coventry is offering taxi drivers a unique range of incentives to move into battery-powered electric cabs.
As part of a joint venture between Irish energy firm ESB, taxi app Gett and German technology firm Siemens, taxi drivers in the city will be encouraged to switch traditional diesel-powered cabs with electric models built by the Coventry-based London Electric Vehicle Company (LEVC).
It’s hoped that the scheme, dubbed ‘Go Electric Taxi’ will help the city hit its targets for reducing air pollution.
The TX vehicles, which use batteries and a small petrol-powered range-extender system to offer a total range of up to 377 miles, have been produced in Coventry since the start of 2018, although most of the vehicles to leave the £325 million plant have been sold to London.
Now, though, LEVC hopes the Go Electric Taxi scheme will persuade cabbies in the Midlands to take on an electric vehicle.
Under the scheme, Coventry’s cabbies will be able to sign up to a 12-day loan that allows them to experience life with one of the ultra-low-emission vehicles, while the first 60 drivers to move to the LEVC TX will receive an incentives package valued at £2,500.
Funded by grants from the Office of Low-Emission Vehicles and the government’s Joint Air Quality Unit, the incentives package includes a “significant contribution” towards insurance costs, as well as the waiver of “several” licensing fees.
Cllr Jayne Innes, cabinet member for Coventry’s city services, said: “We are very proud of the high standards of our licensed taxi drivers, and their key role in welcoming people to the city and supporting the local community and businesses. I’m really keen to see how drivers find the loan scheme, especially if it can bring benefits to their business and improve standards for customers in Coventry.”
Chris Gubbey, CEO of LEVC, added:“Coventry has always been the home of the black cab and this new scheme will ensure that Coventry’s taxi sector has one of the most modern, customer-centric fleets in the UK. These extended trials will give drivers a chance to get comfortable with our proven EV technology and see how much the vehicle delights passengers.”
As well as promoting the taxis themselves, the Go Electric Taxi scheme will also see investment in Coventry’s electric vehicle infrastructure. Siemens and ESB will join forces to provide 39 rapid charging points across the city, all of which will be available not only to cabs, but also members of the public.
Anne Buckingham, business development manager for electromobility at Siemens Mobility, said the scheme would be a model for other cities to follow.
“This is an innovative and scalable solution to a common problem that many of our cities face and a real step forward in providing electric vehicle infrastructure that will provide increased accessibility and have real commercial benefit,” she said. “We are delighted to be working with Coventry City Council, and our partners ESB, to deliver, install and maintain an efficient electric charging network for one of our nation’s iconic images, the black cab.”