During the current time, our taxi project providing EV trials and drop in sessions has been paused in line with government advice. Electric Blue and Oxford City Council look forward to re-starting this project as soon as it’s considered safe to do so. You can find out more about how Oxford City Council is pursuing their zero-emission goals and #ElectricRevolution on their Electrify campaign.

We are delighted to announce a new 30 month project, working alongside Oxford City Council (OCC) to demonstrate electric taxis and engage local taxi drivers in the uptake of low or zero emissions vehicles. The project will include three demonstration vehicles, with the first two due to launch in December 2019. The funding from OCC is part of their Innovate UK project for electric vehicles.

Why are we doing this project?

New emission standards for Hackney taxis have been developed over several year’s consultation with the City of Oxford Licensed Taxi Association (COLTA) and with feedback from taxi drivers and owners. The new standards were ratified by Council in early 2019 and see Hackney taxis adopting a phased approach to zero-emission capable vehicles between 2020 and 2025. From 2025, all Oxford Hackney Carriages will be required to be capable of Zero Emission Driving, in line with the government’s Ultra Low Emission Taxi definition (ULEV). There are 107 licensed Hackney Vehicles in Oxford, many operating old vehicles that, from 2020, will no longer meet the new taxi emissions standards and therefore cannot be re-licensed. This means that 52% of the fleet will need to be replaced with a higher emission standard vehicle during 2020 – those currently EURO 1, 2, 3 standard.

OCC are wishing to implement this electric taxi “try before you buy scheme” service for the Hackney Taxi trade in Oxford. The purpose of the scheme is to allow proprietors and drivers the opportunity to trial electric taxis at an affordable rental rate. As well as uptake and utilisation of the rental vehicles, we are aiming to demonstrate evidence that there is a measurable decrease of concerns about electric taxis, whilst increasing knowledge of zero emission vehicles (ZEV), to include their usage and their benefits.

Electric Blue commits to delivering these minimum targets:

  • 25 of 107 Oxford licensed Hackney Carriage proprietors will have rented a vehicle provided by the scheme, by 31st December 2020 (23% uptake).
  • 45 of 107 Oxford licensed Hackney Carriage proprietors will have rented a vehicle provided by the scheme, by 31st December 2021 (42% uptake).
  • Utilisation of the vehicles in the rental fleet, for the duration of the contract, will be 65% or greater in any three month period, with utilisation defined as the number of days where the vehicle is on hire.
  • 54 of 107 Oxford licensed Hackney Carriage proprietors will have taken part in the EVolve programme by 31st December 2020.

Alex Calnan, Managing Director of Electric Blue, says,

“Working with Oxford City Council and their licensed taxi drivers, this exciting project is looking at how to improve air quality in Oxford by accelerating the uptake of zero emission capable vehicles in the taxi trade. A key part of this project is to identify transferable ideas which can be applied to other towns and cities also seeking to address their air quality issues.”

Bumps in the road

With projects of this scope, there is a potential for the model delivery being affected, but for which we are prepared with amendments scheduled throughout the project period.

Rental period – the rental periods offered will be two weeks or four week. This will be reviewed regularly throughout the duration of the project. Depending on feedback, we propose extending the rental period up to 6 months, after 18 months of the project. This will only take place if demand has been met, and the Steering Board agrees that drivers have been given sufficient chance to participate.

Demand for rental vehicles – should the demand for rental vehicles exceed our ability to supply them with the flexibility outlined above, then we are committed to adding new vehicles to the rental fleet at our commercial risk. The Cenex Hackney Carriage Business Model Assessment highlights the challenge for drivers in funding the capital purchase of a new electric vehicle. Designing a business model to overcome this challenge is a primary strategic objective.

Model of vehicles available –
the Hackney Carriage vehicle market is currently limited to a small number of vehicle options. However, with the clear statement of intent to achieve a net-zero emission national target by 2050, this is expected to change in the next 12 months. To ensure that we have the flexibility to adapt accordingly, we are running a series of market research projects throughout 2019 to refine the timeline of expected new EVs.

Driving into the future

The trial is designed to provide enough experience and information to familiarise drivers with EV Hackney operation, thereby reducing and removing some of the perceived barriers to EV uptake. By participating in this trial scheme, drivers will be afforded the opportunity to gain specific knowledge of zero emissions vehicles in the taxi trade, understand their usage and benefits, and ultimately, be assured that their concerns surrounding EVs are possible to overcome.

You can find out more about Oxford City Council’s Electrify Oxford campaign here.

Date: 12/02/2020