The government must extend its £7,500 grant to taxi drivers to help continue the transition to electric vehicles, the chief executive of the sector’s trade body has said.
Steve McNamara, general secretary of the Licensed Taxi Drivers’ Association (LTDA) told the PA News Agency it was “essential” the scheme continues to avoid the cost of acquiring new environmentally friendly taxis.
It comes ahead of a looming deadline for the government’s Plug-in Taxi Grant (PiTG), which is set to expire on April 5.
The grant, which has been a significant factor in helping London’s taxi fleet reduce emissions, was first introduced in 2017, and gives black cab drivers and taxi companies a £7,500 contribution towards new electric taxi’s purchased.
Removing the grants could see the price of a plug-in hybrid electric LEVC TX taxi bought on finance rise to upwards of £110,000, McNamara told PA.
“This would be absolutely disastrous because taxi drivers thinking of buying a new vehicle will try to hang on to old vehicles,” he said.
He added: “It’s bad for us, it’s bad for London and it’s got to be bad for the government.
“They tell us we’re the best cab service in the world, they give us lots of platitudes about how wonderful it is that we buy these vehicles.
“But are they prepared to put a little bit of money in to keep us doing it? By government standards it is a tiny fraction of a drop in the ocean.”
The London Electric Vehicle Company (LEVC), the manufacturer of electric black taxis, has lobbied hard for an extension for the grant scheme, which it sees as an “important incentive” for the industry as a whole.
In a statement to PA, the Department for Transport spokesperson said: “We’re committed to supporting the switch to electric, and through this grant we have provided over £50m to support the purchase of 7,000 zero emission-capable taxis to date.
“The grant is committed until the end of this financial year, and as always it remains under continual review.”