Taxi firm drives ahead in green revolution

John Cutler with one of his electric taxis
John Cutler with one of his electric taxis
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A Blackpool taxi company is powering ahead with its green revolution and in the process has become the biggest electric cab company in the UK.

Premier Cabs has invested £2.3m in the project so far, currently running 66 of the 100% electric vehicles, with this figure set to rise.

The Lytham Road based firm says it's money well spent as operating costs for itself and its drivers has plummeted whilst at the same time improving air quality in the town.

John said "We have 12 rapid chargers sited around Blackpool at the moment, all in car parks, and will be installing two more in the next month".

"With these in place the drivers use them for 'pit stop' charging from 10 to 30 minutes depending on workload".

"The technology is moving all the time - battery capacity started at 24kw before moving to 30kw and last week the 40kw was announced. The higher kw the more miles and the 60kw is on its way! This will overcome the 'range anxiety' that some people have that might have put people off buying electric."

He said the better batteries mean more charge can be stored increasing the number of miles an electric car can go before needing a recharge.

He added that the sales of Nissan Leafs and Nissan ENV200 minibuses is increasing while diesel sales are dropping as they are the main air polluters and are being penalised in many big cities including London.

John was called upon to give a talk in Paris for Nissan at the launch of the E-NV200 about his experiences running a fleet of Leaf cabs.

He said: “It was a bit nerve wracking but it went down quite well. We also did a test drive around the Paris suburbs with Robert Llewellyn from Red Dwarf who hosts a tech show.”

Premier Cabs was started in 1990 and by 2010 was the biggest single taxi fleet in the town this lead John into semi retirement, but it wasn't long before he was looking around for something inspirational.

"I saw the electric vehicles in 2012 and started looking into the possibility of running them as taxis. After a lot of homework we launched the first electric taxis in Blackpool in early 2015, with the obvious benefit of having no exhaust emissions twinned with potentially lower running costs we decided to go for it".

Besides lowering the carbon footprint and zero poisonous emissions there was the added business benefits.

"For example our Ford Mondeos ran between 12p and 18p a mile. This cost would be split between ourselves and the drivers. With the electric vehicles only costing between 3p and 4p per mile we were able to tell our drivers they would have zero fuel costs and be driving vehicles of the future, today!"

"They are fabulous to drive, I personally prefer them to my own car at home, they just glide. They also have instant torque and lots of cutting edge technology".

The Leafs cost around £22,000 after the Government grant and with less down time than a conventional combustion engine it translates to much lower running costs.

"The only thing stopping us putting even more on the road is a lack of drivers. We have all types of people driving including professionals who have swapped their stressful jobs to drive with Premier.

"We have architects, and lawyers who do some driving for us, they often find it less stressful than their other jobs.

“People come to us like that, we call them toe-dippers, and once they have got their licence and done a bit of driving they more often than not find they like it better.

"In the job you get to find out everything that's happening around the town talking to customers who all have different viewpoints. Driving the electric taxis you know you are doing something that benefits everybody in the town".