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London’s Taxis Are Going Electric to Improve the City’s Air Quality

January 18, 2020 by Luke James

The very first 100% electric black cab has launched in London in the form of a converted Nissan van called Dynamo.

In October, Dynamo arrived at London’s City Hall for the very first time. The zero-emissions taxi, made from a converted Nissan e-NV200 Evalia MPV, was unveiled as part of the International Clean Air Conference.


London’s First 100% Electric Vehicle

Dynamo is London’s first 100% electric black cab since the Bersey Taxi between 1887 and 1009, an early electric-powered vehicle and the first to ever be used in London. Whilst the Bersey Taxi was initially popular, they only had a top speed of 12 mph (19 km/h) and were very heavy, causing them to quickly wear down which damages batteries and tyres. Bersey Taxis were withdrawn in 1889.

As may be expected, the new Dynamo 100% electric vehicle is a substantial improvement on the Bersey model. It boasts a maximum range of 187 miles, an improvement of 157 miles. Developed by the UK-based vehicle manufacturer Dynamo Motor Company, the Dynamo Taxi is priced at £47,995. A £7,500 government subsidy is also available for buyers. 

Dynamo CEO and founder, Brendan O’Toole, said “The UK’s new car market is experiencing an electric revolution, with record numbers of fully electric vehicle registrations taking place each year. Electric vehicle technology is now a viable alternative to petrol and diesel vehicles, and it’s imperative the UK’s taxi market changes with the times. The Dynamo Taxi is the UK’s first Transport for London-approved fully electric taxi and is designed with both drivers and passengers in mind. With a low starting price, and a reliable vehicle architecture in the Nissan e-NV200, we are offering a truly unique solution to the tens of thousands of taxi drivers in London and cities across the UK.”


A taxi in London that is entirely fueled by electricity.

A Dynamo electric taxi. Image Credit: Dynamo Electric Taxi.


A Push Towards Carbon Neutrality in London

London is increasingly introducing initiatives and efforts to make the city more carbon neutral and improve its air quality. 

Today, only two types of car can be granted a taxi license by Transport for London (TfL) – the Dynamo Taxi and a hybrid vehicle made by the London Electric Vehicle Company (LVEC). Since their introduction in January 2018, the same month diesel-powered cabs were banned under TfL’s Taxi Private Hire regulations, over 2,500 LVEC taxis have been licensed for use on London’s roads. The LVEC TX (previously known as the TX5) is a purpose-built hackney carriage, a plug-in hybrid range-extender electric vehicle.

Other initiatives to improve London’s air quality include a £42 million fund laid out by city hall to buy older, higher emissions taxis off drivers which will be replaced by one of the two above alternatives. 

London is not just targeting taxis, though. London’s new Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) was launched in April 2019. With a goal of improving the city’s air quality, ULEZ sees drivers of vehicles that do not meet stricter emission standards paying a daily fee — £12.50 for most cars, vans and motorcycles up to 3.5 tonnes and £100 for heavier vehicles – when they are driven inside it. ULEZ spans Central London for the time being, however, it will expand up to the North and South circular roads on 25 October 2021. 

There is still a long way to go, though. Most of the 20,000 licensed black cabs in London are powered by diesel. According to TfL, London’s taxis account for 16% of vehicle nitrogen oxide emissions (NOx) in the Capital. 

The mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said he was delighted to see taxi-drivers “doing their bit to improve our air”.

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