All private hire vehicles newly licensed in London this year must be “zero-emission-capable”, according to new rules. Transport for London (TfL) introduced the new policy on January 1, requiring all private hire vehicles registered for the first time to be capable of driving without any tailpipe emissions.

The new rules effectively mean new private hire vehicles or ‘minicabs’ (as opposed to ‘black cabs’ or Hackney carriages), will have to be electric or plug-in hybrid. Conventional ‘full’ or ‘self-charging’ hybrids are not explicitly banned under the new rules, but no full hybrids currently on sale can meet the criteria, which require a minimum zero-emission range of 10 miles for cars emitting no more than 50g of carbon dioxide per kilometre, or 20 miles for cars emitting no more than 75g per kilometre.

Although the rules only apply to new private hire vehicles first licensed by TfL in 2023, the organisation says the move is part of a wider campaign to clean up London’s air. By 2030, the mayor, Sadiq Khan, says he wants the city to have net-zero carbon emissions.

Kia Niro EV (e-Niro) fast charging at IONITY

The new requirements replace old rules that ensured all newly licensed vehicles under the age of 18 months had to be capable of driving without emissions. As a result of these rules, TfL says 25 percent of all private hire vehicles collecting passengers in London are now zero-emission-capable. And several operators have committed to an all-electric fleet by 2025.

With the new rules, TfL’s director of licensing and regulation, Helen Chapman, said drivers would be supported by an “extensive” charging network. The organisation has made land available for a further 100 new charging points on top of the 11,000 already available in the city. TfL has identified the need to build 40,000-60,000 charging points by 2030, and it says it’s on track to meet the target.

Toyota Prius

“The taxi and private hire trade has embraced electric vehicles in recent years, with thousands already being used to pick up passengers from all corners of the capital,” she said. “Toxic air in London is a public health emergency and this new requirement will act as a catalyst in significantly further reducing toxic emissions and carbon dioxide, which is a major contributor to global warming.

“Drivers will benefit from London's extensive charging network when needing somewhere to plug in, with more than 11,000 points across the city and close to 1,000 of those allowing a top up in 30 minutes or less. The switch to electric will also mean cheaper fuel costs when compared with petrol or diesel.

“We know that with the boom in electric vehicles, many more charging sites will be needed. London is on track to meet these projections, which we are supporting by making public land available and ensuring the fast charging points a world city needs are being built at pace and in significant numbers.”