Transport for London (TfL) is spending £18 million on upgrading the capital’s power grids to charge the first generation of battery-powered black cabs.
As of the 1st January 2017, all new black cabs will have to be battery-powered electric models by law as part of the 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 rapid charging point can top up a car’s battery within minutes, rather than the hours it takes for conventional chargers that are currently dotted around the capital.
An initial 75 rapid chargers are due to be operational by the end of this year. While some of the sites will be exclusively for black cabs, the network will also be open to increasing the number of owners of Nissan Leafs, electric BMWs and Teslas in London.
TfL’s director of surface strategy and planning, Ben Plowden, 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: Bluepoint London, Centrica, Chargemasters, 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 Nissan Leaf driver £10.80 to fully top up with a rapid charger, plus a monthly subscription fee of £4. TfL have said that the costs to drivers would be capped for the first two years.
The Licensed Taxi Drivers’ Association expects the first electric black cabs in the capital to be on the roads by this September.
If a taxi driver currently owns a taxi that is older than 10 years old, they will be able to claim a payment from TfL of up to £5,000 later this year, towards the cost of a new zero-emissions taxi, which are currently being built in Coventry.
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