Continuing on from my trip to the UK in 2017; black cabs are an iconic feature around London, starting as the Hackney carriage in 1662, and I would hate to see the demise of them.

From the end of 2017, the black diesel cab ceased production, resulting in hybrid electric vehicles being the only option available from 2018. Interestingly, it will not be the first time the Hackney company has had electric vehicles….the first was around the turn of the 19th century.

 I interviewed numerous black cab drivers for this report and the consensus was that most were not in favour of the change.

Their main concern was cost. Diesel cabs cost around 45,000 pounds and the electric cars about 65,000 pounds.

They were also concerned about sitting over the battery and the potential for radiation emissions.

The electric cabs can travel approximately 100 miles on a charge (they have a small internal combustion engine {1.5l}) and a range extender will take them up to 377 miles. The cabbies explained they do a lot of miles in a day, especially going to Heathrow Airport and back to the city, so the limitation on the miles they are able to do on a charge was concerning for them.

There were some other concerns around the charge time, which was expected to be approximately 45 minutes. This would leave a lot of downtime, if multiple charges were required throughout the day.

There is also a requirement for hybrid cabs to only be on the road for 15 years.

All of these are genuine concerns, but I was able to provide some clarity around some of their issues.   

Firstly, the cost – electric vehicles are cheaper to maintain. Although the cabs are hybrid, they will still save 100 pounds a week, taking into account the savings on fuel and lower registration (due to rebates). The price of charging up the hybrid cab is 7 pounds in comparison to the old diesel cab coming in at 32 pounds. (cabbie information)

Secondly, the radiation from battery pack – I pointed out that there is a lot of radiation in our world including mobile phones, microwave ovens, house lighting  etc. There has been no link between ionizing radiation produced by electric systems and any human health conditions. Furthermore, each year in London 9,000 people die of air pollution. Over half of that comes from road transport, of which diesel cars contribute the most, so having less pollutants on the road should markedly improve the air quality and health of citizens. (source 21 March 2018  London’s iconic black cabs go electric)

Finally, charging concerns – In the UK there are 5,819 locations available to charge a vehicle and this is increasing each day. There are 3,530 rapid connectors (43  50  120 kW) which can provide an 80% charge in around 30 minutes.  London has a 100 of them!