Electric vehicles in London (Supplementary) [1]

Session date: 
September 16, 2015
Question By: 
Caroline Pidgeon
Liberal Democrats
Asked Of: 
The Mayor


Caroline Pidgeon MBE AM:  Thank you.  I would like to ask you about taxis.

[Interruption from public gallery]

Caroline Pidgeon MBE AM:  Do you accept, Mr Mayor, that until there are enough zero-emission-capable taxis on the market and alongside that enough rapid-charging points in central London, it will be difficult for the taxi trade to switch away from the diesel vehicles?


Supplementary To: 


Answer for Electric vehicles in London (Supplementary) [1]

Answer for Electric vehicles in London (Supplementary) [1]

Answered By: 
The Mayor

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  I do.

Caroline Pidgeon MBE AM:  Therefore, what are you going to do be able to do to make sure that we can roll out these zero-emission vehicles on the roads as soon as possible?

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  We have an ambitious plan to roll out rapid-charging points across London to make sure that people do not suffer from range anxiety and so that people can recharge at decent intervals across the city.

Caroline Pidgeon MBE AM:  Yes, Mr Mayor, but under your plan ‑‑

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  Secondly, as you will be aware, there is now in the market a considerable number of companies that are bringing forward all-electric taxis of one kind or another.

[Interruption from public gallery]

Caroline Pidgeon MBE AM:  I cannot hear.  Can you stop my clock?

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  You will be aware of a British company called Frazer Nash.  There is ‑‑

Tony Arbour AM (Deputy Chairman):  Mr Mayor, please. [Addressing the public gallery]  I would be glad if you put those [banners] down.  We do not allow props in here.  We rely on our arguments.  All right.  Carry on, Mr Mayor.

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  You will be aware, Caroline, that there is a British company that is in the market.  There is a Turkish firm.  There is considerable investment in Coventry, which the Government has supported.  I have no doubt at all that if you take into consideration the £65 million that we have secured to help fund the transformation to cleaner vehicles, the black cab and black taxi drivers will be able to make the switch.  I appreciate that there is anxiety about this and I appreciate that this is a big change to ask people to make, but I believe that it is one that is profoundly in the interests of the black cab trade.

Caroline Pidgeon MBE AM:  Let me ask you some specific questions, then, Mr Mayor ‑‑

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  This is something that will be greatly appreciated by their passengers, who will want to be travelling in cleaner vehicles, and it will be appreciated by everybody in the streets behind them and in front of them.  It is an interesting fact ‑‑

Caroline Pidgeon MBE AM:  Mr Mayor, let me ask you some very specific questions on this ‑‑

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  Of course.

Caroline Pidgeon MBE AM:  ‑‑ and if you could give me some succinct answers, I would be grateful.  In terms of the charging network, you have said twice that you have an ambitious plan for that, but your original plan said there would be 25,000 fully functioning charging points across London and today we have only 1,400 charging points.  Of those, 40% are regularly out of service and you have now sold these on to a private operator.

[Interruption from public gallery.]

Caroline Pidgeon MBE AM:  Can you briefly explain how your new ambitious plan is going to have a network that really will work to support these new vehicles you have described?

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  As you will appreciate, there is a certain amount of chicken‑and‑egg in all of this because at the moment the number of black cabs that need to use a charging point is very low.  There are some.  There are at least one or two now that are all-electric.  We are proceeding with expanding the charging network.

However, I would just say to all the Luddites in the room who do not want to see new technology - and I do not count you amongst them, Caroline - that this will be something ‑‑

[Interruption from public gallery]

Tony Arbour AM (Deputy Chairman):  All right.  You have been told.  The meeting will be adjourned.  Would you please clear these people out?

[Note: The meeting adjourned at 10.39am and reconvened at 11.08am in Committee Room 5.  Following discussion, the question and answer session with the Mayor resumed.]

Tony Arbour AM (Deputy Chairman):  We were still on Assembly Member Pidgeon’s question relating to electric vehicles.

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  Electric vehicles, yes.

Caroline Pidgeon MBE AM:  All right.  Mr Mayor, let us try to recap.  We had got to the point where we looking at talking about the infrastructure. 

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  Yes.

Caroline Pidgeon MBE AM:  What I would say is that many taxi drivers and private hire drivers do not have access to dedicated off‑street ‑‑

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  No, I understand that.

Caroline Pidgeon MBE AM:  ‑‑ parking facilities.  We do not want them trailing leads across the pavements of estates.  Are you looking at infrastructure that will work with that?

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  Yes, we are and we are looking into, also, a new network not just of thousands of charging points but of rapid charging points as well.  We are acutely conscious of not just the needs but the anxieties that taxi drivers and private hire vehicle drivers will have about their ability to have regular access to charging outlets. 

Caroline Pidgeon MBE AM:  Then what I wanted to ask you about.  Given that there is a lack of availability at the moment of zero-emission taxis and that could be a barrier to adoption and also the cost of them ‑ I have heard that the new ones are looking good, but the cost of them ‑ would you consider TfL looking at procuring a replacement fleet of zero-emission-capable taxis directly and then leasing them to taxi drivers, much the same way ‑‑

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  Like the bus, yes.

Caroline Pidgeon MBE AM:  ‑‑ you have with the New Bus for London, in order to get the prices down to get that real hit early on of clean vehicles on our streets?

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  It is a very interesting idea.  As you know, we have £65 million from the Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) that we are intending to use to subsidise the acquisition of these new vehicles.  It might be worth considering whether we can use our finance and borrowing ability to do just that.  I will certainly not see a problem with looking at that.  It may not be possible but it is certainly worth considering.

Caroline Pidgeon MBE AM:   It seems that you have done it for buses and, from memory, New York do this for its taxi fleet.  It leases them out.  It would be a way that you could buy them quickly.  It would help get through the system.  Otherwise, we are going to be looking at 2033 before the taxi fleet is completely zero-emission-capable.  I would like you to seriously put this to TfL and see if it can find a way to make this work.

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  Yes, I shall.  I did not know it was being done in New York and we will certainly look at that possibility, although, as I say, I would not want to commit to it right now.

Caroline Pidgeon MBE AM:  It seems a good option to try to clean the fleet as quickly as possible.  Thank you, Mr Mayor.