Taxi drivers urged to opt for electric cars

An electric car

An electric car

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WIGAN’S taxi owners are being incentivised to go green.

Council bosses are urging councillors to approve a new scheme which will HALVE the cost of the annual taxi (£294) or private hire (£263) licence to encourage drivers who opt for one of the latest generation lithium battery vehicles.

And for those cabbies yet to be fully convinced by the practicality of all electric cars, licence holders who opt for a hybrid car will also enjoy a beneficial rate, along with drivers of lower CO2 emission petrol and diesel ‘Blue Motion’ vehicles.

The proposed deal comes as Wigan prepares to decide on the location of the electric charging stations scattered across the borough as part of a £3.6m initiative funded by the previous Government to boost the take-up of electric cars across Greater Manchester.

More than 300 electric plug-in points up are expected to be up and running across the county by this October.

The move to incentivise greener vehicles today received the enthusiastic support of Wigan’s Hackney Unite union branch.

There are currently just two hybrid taxis in service - Hackney licence holder Chris Stewart, who is based at the Morrison’s rank in Wigan town centre, plus a private hire vehicle.

Unite union branch secretary Ronnie Melling said: “I’m glad the council seem to be doing something like this. I think this will certainly have a few more of the lads thinking what to do when it is time to renew their vehicles.

“The trade is as keen as anybody else to go green and the drivers will definitely welcome this incentive.”

The council already offers a £20 discount for taxis converted to run on greener LPG, while wheelchair accessible vehicles also enjoy a £75 discount off the annual licence fee.

Hybrids, say the council, use a standard internal combustion engine with a second battery powered electric motor.

Under normal driving conditions the petrol engine powers a generator, which in turns powers an electric motor which sets the car in motion. Hybrids like the Toyota Prius can do 50-74 miles per gallon on combined cycles.

Metro corporate director Gillian Bishop says that as Hackneys and private hire vehicles operate for much of their time in the busy town centre and urban area, using electric technology could reduce the amount of fuel burned compared to conventional vehicles.

She said: “Considering the average hackney carriage or private hire vehicle could complete approximately 35,000 miles per annum and at a far less average fuel consumption of between 20 and 30 mpg, the advantages can seem dramatic.”