The Challenges of Transitioning to an Electric-Only Taxi Fleet

A recent report to South Ribble Borough Council has highlighted the potential issues that may arise if an electric-only policy for Hackney and private hire taxis is implemented in the area. The report emphasizes the lack of infrastructure as a major obstacle that could prevent passenger demand from being met. Additionally, the high cost and limited travel range of wheelchair-accessible electric vehicles pose further challenges to achieving an emission-free taxi fleet.

The council’s licensing manager, Chris Ward, explained that the price of wheelchair-accessible electric vehicles is currently prohibitively high, with some vehicles costing over £60,000. Furthermore, these vehicles can only travel around 200 miles before requiring a recharge. While second-hand electric vehicles are cheaper, their limited range of around 100 miles makes them unsuitable for taxi services.

Ward noted that these vehicles are “not fit for purpose” and could leave passengers’ needs unfulfilled. However, he emphasized the importance of providing a diverse fleet of vehicles and working towards the council’s objectives for air quality.

Despite these challenges, South Ribble has made progress in increasing the number of low-polluting taxis on its roads. The introduction of an age policy for taxis has incentivized drivers to purchase more environmentally friendly vehicles. Most new taxis licensed in the past year have been Euro 6-rated vehicles with limited exhaust emissions. The number of hybrid taxis has also doubled in the past 15 months.

To maintain the diversity of the taxi fleet, a proposal to exempt already licensed, non-compliant vehicles from the Euro 6 standard is being considered. A consultation with the trade will determine whether these vehicles can remain licensed for up to 12 years.

Achieving an all-electric taxi fleet entails overcoming infrastructure limitations and addressing the price and travel range issues of wheelchair-accessible electric vehicles. Nonetheless, the South Ribble Borough Council remains committed to its goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2030.

– South Ribble Borough Council’s licensing and safety committee report.