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Half of London’s black cabs are electric, and you can Uber one too

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If you’re in London and looking to hail one of its legendary black taxis, there’s a good chance you’ll get an emissions-free ride. Half of London’s fleet of 15,000 black cabs are now all-electric vehicles. And starting next year, you can Uber one too – a huge coup for a company once banned in London and loathed by taxi drivers all the world.

A new announcement from manufacturer LEVC and Transport for London (TfL) says that 50% of London’s black taxis are now battery electric vehicles, with most manufactured by Geely’s LEVC. While the first EV taxis hit the London streets in 2018, the number of electric models has spiked 10% just in the last month. 

“Reaching this milestone is a great reflection of how London is working hard to be a greener, more sustainable, environmentally friendly city,” said TfL’s Helen Chapman. “London’s black taxis are recognized worldwide and we are proud to see that so many drivers are helping clean up the air.”

What makes London’s black cabs unique is that, in addition to being independently owned and licensed under strict rules from the TfL, cabbies are known for “the Knowledge,” an ability to locate landmarks in the city with absolute accuracy. Cab drivers study for up to three years and spend a huge amount of cash to get that education: around £10,000 (about $12,500).  

TfL has already required that all new cabs licensed in London be zero-emissions capable since 2018, and that rule was extended to private minicabs last year. Of course, drivers with more polluting vehicles have been required to pay a daily rate of what is now £12.50 to operate London’s Ultra Low Emission Zone. The majority of London’s largest taxi and minicab services are committed to fully electric fleets by 2025. London’s largest taxi operator Addison Lee, which has VW ID4s in its fleet, aims to reach that goal by 2023.

Last week, Uber announced that it will start listing London’s black taxies in its app, a huge win for a company once banned in the city and which has obviously been at odds with the taxi industry. While the service won’t be available until early next year, not everyone is jumping onboard, with many holding off and a trade union denouncing the plan.

“We have no interest in sullying the name of London’s iconic, world-renowned black cab trade by aligning it with Uber, its poor safety record, and everything else that comes with it,” Steve McNamara, general secretary of the Licensed Taxi Drivers Association told Reuters. He also pointed out that you can book a black cab via other apps, including Gett, Taxiapp, FreeNow, and ComCab.

Of course, Uber aims to win over cabbies with hard-to-resist incentives, such as a £150 bonus package for new signups and an additional £250 bonus to drivers after completing their first trip on the Uber platform. Drivers of black taxis will also pay no service fees for the first six months following the launch of the service, which sweetens the deal considerably.

Last year, Uber landed a deal to list 14,000 of New York’s yellow taxis in its app, and the company has already signed deals with taxi fleet operations in Paris, Rome, and Los Angeles last year.

Photo credit: LEVC (London Electric Vehicle Company)

FTC: We use income earning auto affiliate links. More.


If you’re in London and looking to hail one of its legendary black taxis, there’s a good chance you’ll get an emissions-free ride. Half of London’s fleet of 15,000 black cabs are now all-electric vehicles. And starting next year, you can Uber one too – a huge coup for a company once banned in London and loathed by taxi drivers all the world.

A new announcement from manufacturer LEVC and Transport for London (TfL) says that 50% of London’s black taxis are now battery electric vehicles, with most manufactured by Geely’s LEVC. While the first EV taxis hit the London streets in 2018, the number of electric models has spiked 10% just in the last month. 

“Reaching this milestone is a great reflection of how London is working hard to be a greener, more sustainable, environmentally friendly city,” said TfL’s Helen Chapman. “London’s black taxis are recognized worldwide and we are proud to see that so many drivers are helping clean up the air.”

What makes London’s black cabs unique is that, in addition to being independently owned and licensed under strict rules from the TfL, cabbies are known for “the Knowledge,” an ability to locate landmarks in the city with absolute accuracy. Cab drivers study for up to three years and spend a huge amount of cash to get that education: around £10,000 (about $12,500).  

TfL has already required that all new cabs licensed in London be zero-emissions capable since 2018, and that rule was extended to private minicabs last year. Of course, drivers with more polluting vehicles have been required to pay a daily rate of what is now £12.50 to operate London’s Ultra Low Emission Zone. The majority of London’s largest taxi and minicab services are committed to fully electric fleets by 2025. London’s largest taxi operator Addison Lee, which has VW ID4s in its fleet, aims to reach that goal by 2023.

Last week, Uber announced that it will start listing London’s black taxies in its app, a huge win for a company once banned in the city and which has obviously been at odds with the taxi industry. While the service won’t be available until early next year, not everyone is jumping onboard, with many holding off and a trade union denouncing the plan.

“We have no interest in sullying the name of London’s iconic, world-renowned black cab trade by aligning it with Uber, its poor safety record, and everything else that comes with it,” Steve McNamara, general secretary of the Licensed Taxi Drivers Association told Reuters. He also pointed out that you can book a black cab via other apps, including Gett, Taxiapp, FreeNow, and ComCab.

Of course, Uber aims to win over cabbies with hard-to-resist incentives, such as a £150 bonus package for new signups and an additional £250 bonus to drivers after completing their first trip on the Uber platform. Drivers of black taxis will also pay no service fees for the first six months following the launch of the service, which sweetens the deal considerably.

Last year, Uber landed a deal to list 14,000 of New York’s yellow taxis in its app, and the company has already signed deals with taxi fleet operations in Paris, Rome, and Los Angeles last year.

Photo credit: LEVC (London Electric Vehicle Company)

FTC: We use income earning auto affiliate links. More.

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