London Evening Standard)
- NICHOLAS CECIL Deputy Political Editor
- Wednesday 22 March 2017
Diesel black cabs will be a “thing of the past” within six years as Londoners opt to travel in electric models to tackle toxic air, a taxi drivers’ boss said today.
Steve McNamara, general secretary of the Licensed Taxi Drivers’ Association, believes the public will rapidly switch to using electric cabs.
He made the prediction as the Government announced £7,500 grants for cabbies to buy electric models being built at the London Taxi Company factory in Coventry, which opened today.
Mr McNamara said: “By the end of 2023, diesel black cabs will be a thing of the past.
“There will be a customer-driven switch to electric models and the public will be choosing them over diesel. It will be like the switch from horse-driven to motor cabs which took around seven years in the early 1900s.”
The business secretary, Greg Clark, announced a £50 million plug-in taxi grant scheme as he opened the factory to build electric London black cabs after a £300 million investment by its Chinese owners.
City Hall is allocating a further £27 million, largely received from central government, to the electric taxi grant scheme, so it will be contributing £3,000 towards the £7,500 being offered to cab drivers.
The vehicles are expected to be more expensive than the latest diesel black cabs, which cost about £45,000, possibly coming onto the market at between £50,000 and £55,000.
However, drivers could save £2,800 a year in lower fuel costs, according to the Department for Transport.
Mr Clark said: “With around 23,000 diesel black cabs in London, the introduction of electric taxis could help transform air quality in our capital.”
Chris Gubbey, chief executive of the LTC, said: “We believe we can lead the charge in ensuring London’s air quality returns to safe and legal levels and believe that London can lead the world in zero-emissions urban transport.”