Electrify Watford

Executive Summary

In a similar scheme to that of St Albans, taxi drivers in Watford were given the opportunity to have a ‘test run’ before fully committing to convert to an electric taxi (e-Taxi). Through a provision of short-term rental of a fully licenced and insured e-Taxi, along with the installation of charging infrastructure, Electric Blue demonstrated the feasibility of electric vehicles (EVs) for usage as taxis.

Electrify Watford

About Watford Borough Council

Watford is a concentrated urban area situated to the North West of London, with a population of around 93,700. It is a well established regional shopping centre with major rail and road communication links. There is an Air Quality Plan in place, which reviews and assesses air quality in the Borough regularly. Watford Borough Council have made and continue to undertake measures to ensure that air quality is improved in densely populated areas.

The trial in Watford was part of Electric Blue’s 2025 campaign, which aims to fully decarbonise every taxi in Hertfordshire by that date. Key findings from this trial will be used to develop similar projects throughout the county.

Zero Emissions

Why taxis?

Here are four key reasons as to why we are targeting taxis for the rEVolution:

  • Most journeys are completed in our most densely populated areas.
  • Drivers can receive substantial savings with low operating costs.
  • Taxis are extremely visible to the public - ideal for promoting the benefits of EVs.
  • Government Air Quality Policy now provides strong support for transition to EVs.

Challenges

  • Provide evidence for the council, the taxi industry and the public that EVs are feasible for use as taxis.
  • Reassuring ‘range anxiety’ – a popular misconception that the range of EVs is very limited.
  • Demonstrate how quick and easy it is to charge without losing profitable ‘on the road’ time.
  • Demonstrate key benefits to as many users as possible.
  • Provision of charging infrastructure - including usage, locations, reliability and costs.
  • Develop the trial into a model for a rollout across Hertfordshire, with information on charging infrastructure, vehicle usage, costs, and emissions.

Our solution

Electric Blue, in partnership with Watford Borough Council, ran a series of EVent days in the lead-up to, and on the official launch day of the project. The EVents took the format of an informal presentation to promote the benefits of EVs as taxis, followed by a Q&A session to discuss the future of e-Taxis. The opportunity for a test drive was also offered. With driver engagement being a key indicator for ongoing success of an e-Taxi uptake, we were extremely pleased that these EVents saw 150 drivers in attendance.

Team Photo

March 2015 saw the opening of the first rapid charger in Service Road Q. Exclusively for taxi drivers, this charger would break the cycle of limited charging infrastructure availability, which had been inhibiting popular uptake of EVs.

Electric Blue funded and operated a small rental fleet of fully licensed e-Taxis for both Private Hire and Hackney Carriage drivers. By offering a risk-free, real-world trial of an EV (rentable by the day, week or month), drivers were able to trial an EV before fully committing to the conversion.

Interested parties were initially drivers with vehicles that were off-road for routine services, accidents or repairs. This developed into more widely spread curiosity , stemming from growing customer demand, an enhanced awareness of EVs, and an increasing number of e-Taxis within the fleet. Initiatives that were all driven forward by Electric Blue’s marketing campaign.

Finally, Electric Blue created the Electrify Watford Campaign to raise awareness of poor air quality and rising emissions, and demonstrate the actions that can be instigated to solve these issues. By running a targeted marketing campaign, Electric Blue was able to encourage a greater uptake of EVs, and increased the popularity of the trial e-Taxis. The marketing campaign focussed on the significant cost advantages of EVs, including lower fuel and maintenance costs, as well as the increased business opportunities that e-Taxis can bring. Electric Blue developed strong partnerships with the local licensing teams and taxi associations, as well as seeking endorsements from key local businesses in order to create demand for e-Taxis.

Results

  • The rental fleet of Nissan Leaf vehicles was made available, with over 20 drivers utilising the e-Taxi trial.
  • The rapid charger had an average daily usage of 15kw per driver.
  • Over 3,500 e-Taxi miles were driven by Electric Blue taxis - saving 0.5 tonnes of emissions.
  • The taxi plate fee was reduced by 50% for EVs.
  • The first fully electric taxi fleet was launched in Autumn 2015, following a successful month-long trial of an Electric Blue rental vehicle.
  • The first private-hire rental e-Taxi was licensed.
  • Q Challenge supported the Electrify Watford Campaign - read more about this on our Q Challenge Case Study.
  • The Electrify Watford Campaign continues to run successfully.
  • Electric Blue continues to secure pledges from local businesses - demonstrating support for the uptake of e-Taxis and creating demand for electrification!

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