Full steam ahead for £50m electric taxi fleet plan in Sheffield despite review of clean air zone

It is full steam ahead for plans to have a fully electric fleet at Sheffield’s biggest taxi firm despite the pandemic prompting a ‘review’ of the city centre clean air zone.

Thursday, 24th September 2020, 12:30 pm

Bosses at City Taxis say switching all 1,500 cars over was never just about emissions - but saving drivers money too.

And although a six-month trial was shelved after four months due to lockdown, passenger numbers are almost back to being high enough for it to resume.

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Launch of the City Taxis goes electric plan in December.From left: Sinead Gillett and Gavan Walsh of icabbi, Arnie Singh and Davud Aryan of City Taxis, Mick Tope icabbi and Neil Davies RCI bank and services. Picture Scott Merrylees

City Taxis business development director Paul Gosney said the project was six months behind schedule due to lockdown. Passenger numbers initially fell to 15 per cent of normal.

He added: “It’s not changed, we are still on with it. The electric fleet plan was nothing to do with the CAZ. We wanted to help the environment and save drivers money and be more competitive in an extremely competitive market.”

Earlier this month council chiefs said they were reconsidering the clean air zone to give pandemic-hit businesses a break.

It would have charged cabbies £10-a-day to travel on, or inside, the inner ring road from 2021.

City is in talks with French giant Nissan-Renault to supply 1,500 cars by 2025. They are said to be cheaper to run because drivers are no longer paying for fuel.

Under the proposal, City would also install up to 12 rapid-charging hubs in shipping containers around the city.

The £120,000 units, which charge up to 10 cars at a time, would also be open to the public and have wifi, a toilet and coffee facilities.

Talks are being held with Sheffield City Council about their location, Mr Gosney said.

Sheffield City Council said the pandemic had meant a drop in air pollution of up to 33 per cent compared with 2019. And many businesses who would have been affected by a clean air zone charge were focusing on keeping their companies afloat.

The zone would have seen a daily charge of £50 for buses and £10 for taxis, lorries and vans, introduced in 2021.

Now, the authority is looking at alternative ways of keeping emissions down including incentives for upgrading vehicles, better provision for walking and cycling, and cleaner public transport.

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