Taxis will drive the electric revolution
Greenpeace has got it wrong. The key to EVs is money.
I increasingly find venturing onto the internet akin to stepping out into a hurricane. I may want to only visit a shop but I always end up blown somewhere else instead, normally looking at Kendall Jenner in underwear.
Today, though, was different. On my way back from the supermarket – as I was attempting to do the big shop in under an hour – I found myself stuck behind the Google Street View car.
This was an opportunity I was not going to miss and promptly thrust my face into the windscreen, waving my hands and flicking the Vs. And as the car pulled away, I noticed a little sticker on the back that said, ‘This car is powered by electricity’.
“Electricity,” I thought, “that’s a funny way of spelling megalomania.”
Later on, I naively started googling to see if maps had already been updated. It hadn’t. And then I started searching about their cars generally. And, without any bikini distractions, I learnt they are in fact hybrids.
This is obviously quite a sensible idea by Google and in fact for all commercial businesses with cars. It’s very hip to be green and, especially in London, cost-effective. Not least with the soon to be expanded congestion zone.
But, there’s an obstacle on the horizon. Despite maps of the UK's charging stations now showing more points than a Greek orgy, the infrastructure is still lacking. Coupled with demand which will soon outpace the supply, the electric revolution could be turned off.
Not, however, if taxi companies have anything to do with it.
London is the home of cabs and has become a fiercely battled place for ride-hailing firms in Europe. There are now some 130,000 registered private hire drivers in London. And nearly all of them drive cars which drink dinosaur smoothies.
This is why companies like Uber are now using all their might to fire-up the volts on a green rebellion. Only this week, Uber announced it would invest more than £5m in electric vehicle charging infrastructure in some of the poorest boroughs in London – where many of their drivers live.
Uber has also brokered very big-money deals with manufacturers like Nissan. The hope is that long-term, the Leaf will become the default Uber car, not the Prius. This will save drivers money.
Other firms are following suit. Bolt, numero 2 in London, is also shifting gear to move its drivers onto an electric fleet. Gett, the black cab platform, and Free Now (formerly Kapten) are thought to be very close behind too.
And all of this is great for us at home. Because when we say ‘ooohh, I’d be scared of running out of juice’ or ‘can I be arsed to wait an hour to charge it’, nobody really listens, because we’re not driving electric cars. Whereas, suddenly backing a multi-billion dollar industry into an expensive corner with all their drivers, that on the other hand will cause change pretty quickly.
So, in a few years when polar bears are plentiful, we can all afford an electric car and get to the seaside and back, we’ll know who to thank for the transformation. Taxi drivers, their overlords and good old-fashioned profit margins.