Electrifying Watford - e-Taxi and e-Charger Trial

Electrify Watford

Executive Summary

A pilot scheme under the title #ElectricRevolution, run by locally based business, Electric Blue introduced the City’s licensed taxi drivers to the benefits of switching to all-electric cars, (which are emission free and significantly more cost-effective to operate than current vehicles), by providing a Rapid Charger to power the trial and the opportunity to rent a fully licensed, insured electric taxi.

To formally launch the scheme Electric Blue ran engagement days with Drivers to discuss the benefits of Electric Vehicles (EVs) and to encourage them to sign up to the scheme

The trial proved that Electric Vehicles work as taxis. Drivers were able to save a significant amount of money on fuel costs whilst reducing Watford’s emissions and improving local air quality.

Electrify Watford

About Watford Borough Council e-Taxi and e-Charger Trial

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. It has an Air Quality Plan and reviews and assesses air quality in the Borough regularly. They have made and continue to undertake measures to ensure that air quality is improved in these densely populated areas.

The electric vehicles were supplied as a part of a ‘try before you buy’ e-Taxi trial in Watford, Electric Blue installed and managed the Rapid Charger required to support the trial in Service Road Q along with the electric taxis. This was part of the wider move in Hertfordshire under the banner of the 2025 campaign which aims to fully decarbonise every taxi in Hertfordshire by that date. Key learnings from this pilot will be used to develop similar projects throughout the county.

Zero Emissions

Why taxis?

Most journeys are completed in our most densely populated and polluted areas and so a sensible starting point for any serious emission reduction plan. Secondly the low operating cost of EVs offer significant financial benefit to drivers. Thirdly taxis are very visible and provide an excellent opportunity to promote the benefits of EVs to the public.

Challenges

  • To provide evidence for the council, the taxi industry and the public that (EVs) work as taxis by disproving misconceptions
  • Range anxiety – overcoming the idea that the range is very limited
  • To prove that performance is not an issue
  • 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
  • Charging infrastructure - usage, locations, reliability and cost
  • Develop trial into a model for rollout across Herts with information on charging infrastructure, vehicle usage, costs, and emissions
  • Running a targeted marketing campaign ‘Electrify Watford’ to encourage drivers to convert to electric, and create demand by asking local business to endorse and use e-taxis as 1st choice

What did we do?

Prior to and on the launch day of the project Electric Blue ran a series of eVent days to encourage Driver Engagement in partnership with Watford Council - around 150 drivers attended. The events took the format of an informal presentation to drivers on the benefits of EVs, the opportunity for a test drive and a Q & A and feedback session on the future of electric taxis.

Team Photo

March 2015? saw the opening of the first Rapid Charger in Service Road Q exclusively for taxi drivers, to break the cycle of limited charging infrastructure dampening demand for EVs.

Electric Blue funded and operated a small rental fleet of fully licensed, electric taxis for both Private Hire and Hackney Carriage drivers, to remove perceived barriers by providing a risk-free, real world trial of an EV. Taxis could be rented by the day, week or month.

Early adopters were drivers with vehicles that are off-road for routine service, accidents or repair, but latterly from a growing awareness of electric taxis driven by Electric Blue’s marketing, customer demand and by an increasing percentage of the fleet changing to electric.

Running a targeted marketing campaign to encourage drivers to convert to electric. This focused on the significant cost advantages of EVs (lower fuel and maintenance costs) as well as increased business opportunities and financial incentives. Electric Blue has developed key partnerships with the local licensing teams taxi associations and seeks endorsements from key local businesses to create demand.

Creation of the Electrify Watford Campaign to raise awareness of poor air quality and rising emissions and the steps that can be taken to solve it. This campaign is supported and endorsed by key local and national businesses.

Results

  • Rapid Charger average daily usage of 15kw per driver
  • Rental fleet (using Nissan Leafs) launched in March 2015, made available and over 20 drivers have trialled the vehicles.
  • Over 3,500 EV taxi miles driven by Electric Blue rental taxis - saving 0.5 tonnes of emissions1
  • Taxi plate fee reduced by 50% for electric vehicles
  • First fully electric taxi fleet launched Autumn 2015, on the back of a successful month long trial of an Electric Blue rental vehicle
  • First private hire rental taxi licensed
  • Electrify Watford campaign launched and continues to run
  • Ran Q Challenge with Queen Mary
  • Continue to secure pledges from local businesses to support the uptake and create demand for electric taxis

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