The UK government has set up a £20m fund for local authorities to support the rollout of ultra-low emission taxis across the UK with further £25m promised for Greater London.
The funding would be used to help taxi-drivers to upgrade to greener vehicles and to install new support infrastructure.
On top of the today announced funding, taxi drivers will also be able to apply for the existing plug-in car grant, which can contribute up to £5,000 to the cost of eligible low emission vehicles.
Starting today, local authorities will be able to bid for feasibility studies to prepare for the rollout of the ultra-low emission fleets.
The announcement comes together with the confirmation that the world’s first ultra-low emission zone will be established in London in 2020, preventing polluting cars from entering central parts of the city. The drivers of polluting vehicles would have the option to pay an extra charge for driving in the ultra-low emission zone.
London cab's are expected to pave the way for the wider roll-out of the low-emission technology as the Mayor of London Boris Johnson envision old polluting diesel-powered cabs to be replaced with greener electric-hybrid vehicles in three years.
To support the emission-free taxi push, Geely, the owner of the London Taxi Company -one of the competitors to win over the ultra-low emission taxi market - has announced today it will build a new £250m manufacturing facility producing its next generation ‘green’ London Black Taxis.
The firm was awarded £17m from the government’s Regional Growth Fund to build the factory in Coventry, expected to create 1,000 new jobs.
“The low emission vehicle sector is going from strength to strength with demand in the UK up by over 300 per cent last year, making the UK a leading market for this technology,” said Transport Minister Baroness Kramer.
“Today’s announcement means ultra-low-emission taxis will be the smart choice for more taxi drivers and everyone will benefit from improved air quality and greener travel.”
First zero-emission cabs can already be seen ferrying passengers in London as Geely’s competitor Metrocab is already trialling its vehicles since February.
Chinese Geely plans its new 85,000 square metre site will house all of the company's research, development and assembly operations, producing up to 36,000 vehicles every year.
It will provide a 10-fold increase on capacity at the company's existing site, which has been home to the London Taxi Company for nearly 70 years.
"The production of zero emission-capable vehicles, incorporating the latest state of the art technology, is essential as we strive to create the greenest taxi fleet in the world for London,” said the Mayor of London Boris Johnson.
“The vehicles this facility produces will help transform London's taxi fleet, boost jobs and growth in London and the West Midlands, and secure the long-term future of the taxi industry, whilst ensuring everyone who lives, work in or visits our city has the cleanest possible air to breathe."
The announcement added that it was the biggest ever investment of its type by a Chinese company in the UK and was backed with funding from the government's Regional Growth Fund.
Geely’s competitor Frazer-Nash is already trialling it’s all-green electrical Metrocab in the streets of London. The E&T took a ride in the new Metrocab at the company’s test circuit: