One hundred new electric vehicle chargers have been switched on across London in a bid to support the capital’s growing fleet of plug-in vehicles, in particular, the new electrified black cabs.
The chargers provide 50kW, enabling top-ups in as little as 20 minutes. Of the 100, 51 are reserved for use by the new LEVC TX cabs, which entered service at the start of the year.
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan (pictured below) said the new chargers “mark a big step forward in the shift to zero-emissions vehicles, which the capital desperately needs to clean up our toxic air”.
Khan continued: “widespread change will not happen until a sufficient charging infrastructure is in place, allowing taxi drivers, businesses and Londoners to easily make the switch”.
Last week, a group of MPs recommended bringing the UK’s new petrol and diesel car ban to 2030, an advance of a decade on previous plans, and today’s London announcement echoes the findings of their report.
New research published today by the WWF (World Wide Fund for Nature), suggests that halting the sale of new combustion-engined cars could reduce transport pollution by up to 30%.
Mayor Sadiq Khan at one of the charging stations in London
“The number of electric vehicles in London stands at 10% of the UK total [which is 118,000],” said Khan. “Alongside around 2,000 standard charge points already installed across London, at least 150 Transport for London-funded rapid charging points are set to be in place by the end of 2018, in addition to new infrastructure in residential neighbourhoods.”
The existing fleet of diesel-engined black cabs is blamed for a large portion of London’s NOx pollution. The Mayor’s office claims that 16% of NOx and 31% of Particulate Matter (PM2.5) road transport emissions in central London are caused by these older taxis.
The new charger expansion is part of a wider plan to boost the uptake of LEVC TXs. The Mayor’s office said sales targets for the TX suggest that NOx could be reduced in central London by up to 45% by 2020.
LEVC CEO Chris Gubbey said: “London's cab drivers are at the front line of the city's fight to improve air quality, and their support will ensure the successful transition to cleaner vehicles in the capital. Their commitment is already demonstrated by the hundreds of pre-orders for our new range-extender electric taxi.
"To maintain this momentum, we need London Boroughs to prioritise rapid-charging infrastructure which, in turn, will encourage more drivers to make the switch to zero-emissions-capable vehicles.”
Mayor Sadiq Khan in front of the electric black taxis in London
A fund of £42 million (Rs 413.4 crore) has been set aside to help black cab drivers switch to the new TX. Drivers of cabs aged between 10 and 15 years old can apply for a grant of up to £5,000 (Rs 492,150) in exchange for retiring their taxi, with the Government’s Plug-In Taxi Grant, part-funded by the Mayor, pushing the total up to £7,500.
The newly announced 50kW chargers will soon be joined by a network of 150kW chargers, which are being rolled out across the country by charging company Pod Point. Those chargers will have the highest EV plug power in Britain and enable some electric cars to charge 80% in around 45 minutes. Chargemaster, another British charger company, has 150kW chargers in the “development pipeline”, so could begin installation in Britain as soon as 2019.
UK boroughs have been slow to take up the Government’s offer of funding towards the installation of electric charge points. The On-street Residential Charging Scheme, which can be used to pay for 75% of charger installation costs, has been used by just five councils as of February.
The Government's ongoing austerity measures have been labelled as a key cause of this shortage of investment.