TfL to spend £18m on preparing London for new electric black cabs

Adam Vaughan
From January 2018, all new black cabs must be battery powered, such as the model pictured. Photograph: The London Taxi Company/PA

Transport for London is spending £18m on upgrading the capital’s power grids to charge the first generation of battery-powered black cabs.

From 1 January 2018, all new black cabs will have to be battery-powered electric models by law as part of TfL’s effort to reduce toxic pollution from diesel engines.

The cash will pay for network reinforcements to enable British Gas owner Centrica and other energy companies to install 300 rapid electric-car charging stations by 2020.

The charging point can top up a car’s battery within minutes, rather than the hours it takes for the city’s thousands of conventional electric vehicles.

An initial 75 fast chargers are due to be operational by the end of the year. While some of the sites will be exclusively for black cabs, the network will also be open to the increasing number of owners of Teslas, Nissan Leafs and electric BMWs in London.

Ben Plowden, TfL’s director of surface strategy and planning, said: “An extensive, rapid charging network is fundamental in helping drivers make the shift from fossil fuels to electric.”

The cost of installing the chargers will fall on the companies that won a TfL tender: Centrica, Bluepoint London, Chargemaster, Ireland’s Electricity Supply Board and Fastned from the Netherlands.

Pricing has not been announced but the main existing network in the capital, Source London, would cost a Leaf driver £10.80 to fully top up with a rapid charger, plus a £4 monthly fee. TfL said the cost to drivers would be capped for the first two years.

The Licensed Taxi Drivers’ Association expects the first electric black cabs on London’s roads in September.

Cabbies with an existing taxi older than 10 years will be able to claim a payment from TfL of up to £5,000 later this year towards the cost of the new zero-emission taxis, which are being built at a factory in Coventry.

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