London’s second-largest minicab operator has pulled out of a deal that would have put 50 electric taxis on the capital’s streets.
Green Tomato Cars, which also operates in the US, had signed a deal in 2012 with Chinese electric car specialist BYD that would have seen it run the E6 electric car alongside its 500-strong fleet of mainly Toyota Prius hybrids.
Earlier this week, however, Green Tomato Cars announced that the two companies had “mutually decided that we will not pursue this venture further”. No explanation was given, but last year it said the rollout of the cars had been delayed due to the inadequacy of London’s charging structure.
Some of the BYD cars had already been delivered to the UK and now 20 will be put into service as minicabs by a new firm called Thriev.
London mayor Boris Johnson will be hoping the company will make a success of them after announcing back in January that by 2018 all new official Hackney Carriage taxis would be required to have an electric-only capability to cut localised emissions.
Thriev has said it has installed two BYD rapid chargers at its base on London’s Edgware Road that can replenish empty batteries to full in just two hours. A spokesman for BYD said the cars had a range of 186 miles on a single charge, making them a far more viable proposition than the UK’s best-selling EV, the Nissan Leaf, which has a quoted range of 124 miles.
Thriev is confident that the BYD E6 cars, which aren’t officially on sale in the UK, will allow the company to expand its fleet to 1,000 electric vehicles within 18-24 months, according to a spokesman. It said it has an agreement with British Gas to build a network of rapid chargers across London.
Back in January an electric taxi that revived the Metrocab name wasunveiled in London with a small petrol engine on board to charge the batteries during driving. The six-seater is scheduled for launch later this year and its makers claim the economy is such it could save black cab drivers up to £200 a week.
Also planning to offer an electric cab is Nissan, who said that in 2015 it will offer a zero-emission version of the NV200 London taxi unveiled in January and scheduled to go in service at the end of the year.
Green Tomato Cars said it was still persuing its goal to run zero-emission minicabs and planned to test a Hyundai fuel-cell car.