Ditching Diesel: How London’s Taxis are embracing an electric future

The black cab is an iconic London symbol, at the heart of the city’s heritage. We have been helping the public get to where they need to be on time and in comfort since 1662. London has changed a lot around us over the years, and we have changed with it.

The last few months have seen increasing focus on traffic reduction measures from London Mayor Sadiq Khan, specifically his expansion of the Ultra-Low Emission Zone. Broader attempts to reduce the number of vehicles on the roads through schemes, like bus and cycle-only corridors and some low traffic neighbourhood schemes, directly impact all the taxi drivers who rely on London roads to make their living.

Just under 50% of London’s black cabs are now zero emission capable, electric taxis. This represents an investment of more than £500  million in clean, green vehicles by the self-employed taxi drivers and SMEs that make up London’s taxi trade. This has been achieved in just five years, since the electric taxi came to market, including two devastating years for our trade and many others, during the pandemic.

We recognise that diesel vehicles account for a disproportionate proportion of NOx emissions in the capital, and the record investment we are seeing in our fleet demonstrates drivers’ commitment to transitioning from polluting diesel to electric vehicles, doing their part to clean up London’s air. This can only be a good thing, with air pollution contributing to more than 4,000 premature deaths each year and leading to a range of long-term health conditions. The more we improve London’s air, the better for our health – including the health of our drivers who are out breathing London’s air every day.

However, we need more support if we are going to continue to deliver change. Purchasing a new electric taxi costs upwards of £68,000 and places a significant financial burden on hard working drivers. We need the Mayor to help us as we look to play our part in reducing air pollution and reaching net zero.

There are some simple things that can be done to support London’s taxi drivers. We need renewed funding for the taxi delicensing scheme to help drivers meet the cost of purchasing an electric taxi, faster and further rollout of dedicated taxi-only rapid charging points to ensure it is commercially viable to drive an electric taxi. We also need a commitment to restoring and maintaining the road access taxis need to continue to provide an efficient and effective door-to-door service across the capital to promote our longevity.

We cannot change overnight but we recognise that change is needed.

We have been embedded into London’s history for centuries, electrification and the transition to a zero-emission fleet will ensure we are a key part of its future.