By Hugh Finlay
All taxis in London will be electric, or partly electric hybrids, by 2025. This is part of the drive to clean up the polluted air of the city of London, which is responsible for killing about 800 Londoners a month. Uber, the main producer of taxis for the city, is making London its first priority for its new line of electric taxis. A spokesman for Uber said "Air pollution is a growing problem and we're determined to play our part in tackling it with this bold plan." The 40,000 licensed drivers working for Uber in London, will get financial support in switching to electric taxis. Already, Uber has 100 electric taxis (Nissan Leafs) operating in the city. Furthermore Uber will try to get the drivers of other combustion engine taxis in the city, to switch to using Uber's new electric taxis, by offering each driver a $2,000 changeover grant.
The Nissan Leaf is the most popular electric car in Britain, and the latest model of Leaf has a range of 235 miles on a single charge. German company, BMW, which has sold 8,000 electric cars in Britain, is planning open a factory in Britain to build it's new electric car, the Mini. As the technology improves, the cost of electric car batteries is dropping, from $1,000 to almost $150, and BMW is predicting that it will soon be producing an electric car with a range of 435 miles on one charge.
Chris Large, from environmental group Global Action Plan welcomed Uber's plan, saying "The speed of Uber's commitment to move away from diesel reflects the urgency of action to address our air pollution health crisis." The Transport for London rules states that all new traditional black cabs produced for the city must be electric from January 2018. These new hybrid black cabs will be able to travel 70 miles one one charge, before having to switch to petrol, unlike the Uber hybrid taxis which can run for 40 miles on a charge, before turning to petrol.
Aware of increasing pressure from governments to reduce air pollution, car manufacturers are switching towards electric vehicle production. Volvo will stop producing purely combustion engine cars by 2021, and the car maker Jaguar land Rover has promised to do the same thing by 2020. The Scottish government is aiming remove all purely combustion engine vehicles by 2032 (8 years ahead of the UK and French government plans).
In the UK sales of electric cars rose by 50% in 2017, compared with the previous year. But most electric car sales are still outside the UK. Other countries are proceeding at a faster rate, for instance Norway, where a third of cars on sale are electric. Julia Hildermeier from the environmental group, Transport and Environment, said "The technology is ready. The ranges are getting longer and new models are being put on the road." In Europe there are currently 20 all electric models of cars, and another 28 models that are hybrid.