Roadblock for Increasing Electric Taxis in London Due to Slow Progress on the Installation of Rapid Charging Point

The mayor of London has said that targets to improve the infrastructure of the city for electric vehicles are possible to be missed, ahead of upcoming changes that will mean that all the new taxis in the capital have to be zero-emission capable.

New licensing requirements will come into force from the 1st of January 2018 in order to lessen emissions from the taxi line by phasing out diesel vehicles and increasing the number of taxis in London that are zero-emissions capable, which the mayor stated should help stop problems on air pollution in the capital.

However, during the Question Time session of the Mayor this week, Mayor Sadiq Khan admitted that an earlier target to roll out seventy-five (75) rapid charging points by the end of 2017, seems unlikely to be reached until next year.

Khan stated that at present, the capital has only 29 of the points, with plans for an additional 15 by the end of this month

“The rate of delivery is expected to rise dramatically, with over 130 locations currently being worked on,” Khan said. “New rapid charging points will form part of an integrated network with the best possible experience, including pay as you go, customer call centres, and online data on locations and availability.”

Khan continued that the Transport for London (TfL) is “prioritising the delivery to ensure there is sufficient coverage to meet demand from taxi drivers as they transition to zero emission capable vehicles from the start of next year.”

A Liberal Democrat London Assembly member who requested the mayor for an update on the progress, Caroline Pidgeon, called the news “depressing,” and said that plans to accomplish three hundred (300) rapid charging points by the year 2020 were “far too timid.”

“If we expect companies with large fleets of cars and vans to go electric they need the absolute certainty that there will always be easy access to rapid charging points in every part of London,” said Pidgeon.

“The mayor needs to do some basic maths. Even when used back to back, a rapid charging point can only charge 48 vehicles every 24 hours.

“With 110,000 taxis and private hire vehicles on London’s roads, not to mention thousands of vans, a network of 300 rapid charging points will never be sufficient to support these vehicles running on electricity.”

Caroline Pidgeon continued that the Sadiq Khan should “raise his sights if he truly wants to tackle air pollution and ensure London leads the way in the adoption of electric vehicles,” and work alongside private developers and garages to develop a comprehensive network of rapid charging points.

The London Taxi Company, which has replaced its name to the London Electric Vehicle Company (LEVC), has been testing its new lines of electric black cabs for the capital, with the cars scheduled to be delivered to customers and made available to fare-paying passengers by the end of 2017.

There have been many discussions regarding possible hindrances to the take-up of electric vehicles, with range anxiety usually cited – concerns that the vehicle has insufficient range to get to its destination.

The LEVC echoed the comments of Pidgeon and stated that drivers required visible signs of progress on electric vehicle infrastructure in the capital.

A LEVC spokesperson stated: “TfL have pledged to deliver 75 taxi dedicated rapid charge points by the end of this year which is a start. However, we now need to see these charge points delivered and communicated to drivers without further delay.”

On Thursday, the London mayor acknowledged that rapid charge points, which can charge vehicles in thirty (30) minutes, were predominantly required by high mileage fleets, like the private hire, freight vehicles, and taxis, “who need to charge quickly with minimal downtime during work hours.”

Khan said that the work on the rapid charging network for electric taxis “is a testament to the vision we have set for the capital and the action we are taking to clean up London’s toxic air.”