London introduces scrappage scheme for diesel taxis as order book opens for electric model

01 August 2017

01 August 2017 London is to offer drivers of diesel-powered black cabs up to £5,000 (€5,600) to scrap their vehicles in a move to cut pollution in the UK capital. Mayor Sadiq Khan launched a £42 million (€47 million) fund to encourage owners of the oldest and most polluting diesel vehicles to replace them. The London Mayor has been an outspoken critic of diesel, with plans to price them out of the city through additional congestion charges and higher parking rates. Khan has also highlighted how electric black cabs will be common on London roads from 2018. Under the scrappage scheme, which aims to cut pollution in central London by 45% by 2020, owners of black cabs which are 10 years old will receive a grant of £5,000 (€5,600) to scrap their vehicles, which will roll down to £1,200 (€1,350) for drivers of vehicles between 14 and 15 years old. The Mayor has also said that no new diesel taxis will be licenced in the capital from January 2018 to aid the reduction in pollution. Research has suggested taxis are responsible for 16% of the capital’s nitric oxide and nitrogen dioxide emissions, and 26% of particulate matter road transport emissions in the capital. In addition to the sum offered for scrappage, drivers will also be given a grant of up to £7,500 (€8,400) to help them buy a new plug-in zero emission black cab, which was launched in July 2017 by London Taxi Company owner Geely from its new base in Coventry. At the time, the company rebranded to become the London Electric Vehicle Company (LEVC). According to LEVC, the new taxi will cost in excess of £55,599 (€62,300), so grants would help drivers upgrade to a vehicle that is around £10,000 (€11,202) more than existing diesel options. However, the company states that finance packages are available at £177 (€198) a week, inclusive of the battery, over five years. LEVC also believes that drivers will see a typical fuel saving of £100 (€112) per week over its current model. Sadiq Khan comments: ′The plans announced by the government [to ban sale of diesel and petrol vehicles by 2040] go nowhere near the action needed. Cleaning up London’s taxi fleet will play a significant part in our toxic air battle and there will be no new diesel taxis licenced in London by the end of this year. ′I hope this fund helps deliver a new generation of zero-emission taxis on our roads and paves the way for the government to offer a diesel scrappage scheme so all London motorists can ditch their dirty diesels.’ Speaking at the opening of the order book for the new electric taxi, Steve McNamara of the Licensed Taxi Drivers Association commented: ‘The taxi trade welcomes the arrival of this ultra clean 21st century vehicle that can only help us to win business back from private hire. We recognise the serious issues around air quality in London and cities around the UK, and look forward to offering emission free personal transport to Londoners and visitors alike.’ Photograph courtesy of LEVC