London is a big city with a global reputation as one of the most popular tourist destinations and busy commercial areas not only in the country but on the planet. As such, there was always going to be a lot to say about the environmental unfriendliness of the city dubbed by many as ‘the big smoke’.
To help alleviate the problem, first announced the congestion charge system, which was so popular that it’s now being implemented in the second city of Birmingham from next year. This charge applies to any vehicle without an exemption that travels within designated congestion charge zones in the capital – zones that are regularly laboured with heavy traffic.
For taxi drivers, this has always been a bone of contention, which is why so many now are choosing to migrate to electric or hybrid vehicles to qualify for the clear vehicle discount (formerly known as the Ultra Low Emissions Discount or ULED). Right now, all vehicles that emit no more than 75g/km of CO2 and have a minimum 20 mile zero emission capable range will qualify for the discount but from October 2021, it will only apply to battery electric or hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.
There has already been a significant shift in the number of electric taxis on London streets, with major firms such as seeing a notable increase in the sale of electric cars such as the Nissan LEAF. Then there are dedicated electric taxi manufacturers such as the aptly-named London EV Company, that recently rolled out over off its production line. This is going to save a reported 8,600 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions, which is roughly the equivalent of 1,500 return flights between London and Sydney.
These are not even 100% electric taxis either. Indeed, these taxis save drivers around £110 a week in fuel and retain the distinctive and iconic black cab look. But completely electric vehicles will be able to save even more and if London is able to set a new standard, it’s a system that could be rolled out across the entire UK by the end of the decade.
London is a city with a perpetual pollution problem and it’s going to require a great deal of manpower and willpower if we’re going to help correct the course. Electric taxis are just one potential avenue but they are a major one, given that car pollution is so dense in the capital that each car costs the NHS and society around . It’s probably going to be a few years before we start to enjoy the results, but better later than never, right?