A sign of the future was introduced on the doorstep of St Leonard’s Church in Shoreditch – London’s only roadside high-speed electric car charging point.
Dozens more are expected to make an appearance around London, as local authorities and Transport for London race to install them ahead of a January deadline, when all new London taxis by law will have to be able to drive using electric power only.
Electrifying the capital’s 24,000-strong black cab fleet is a key step in cleaning up London’s air, but also in encouraging more people to drive battery-powered vehicles.
The new black cabs are currently being made near Coventry and go on sale later this year. Designed by the London Taxi Company (LTC), they have a small petrol engine which prolongs their range before reaching a charge point.
Taxi drivers will receive £7,500 towards the cost of an electric model when trading in a diesel cab – with an additional £5,000 available for cars over 10 years old.
The scheme has the backing of the industry, but only if there are enough charging points.
“Electric taxis are only going to work if we have the infrastructure,” said Steve McNamara, secretary-general of the Licensed Taxi Drivers’ Association.
The new charge points – 50KW super-chargers capable of topping up 80% of battery life inside 30 minutes – will come as part of an £18 million government investment, with around 300 expected by 2020.
The way the manufacturer sees them working is by drivers heading into town using their petrol engines before switching to electric power during their day of drop-offs. They would then recharge at home in the evening.
However, charging points would still be needed throughout the city, as drivers will have to recharge at least once in their working day.