With global sales now approaching the magic 100,000 mark, the Nissan LEAF is currently the most popular electric car in the world, so it’s no surprise LEAFs are already being used as both taxi cabs and private hire vehicles everywhere from Cornwall, England to New York, Washington State, Denmark and even Mexico City. In short, using Nissan LEAFs as private hire vehicles — even stretched ones — isn’t exactly new
But eConnect Cars, London’s latest private hire company, comes with a new-twist: it was founded by a former oil and gas industry executive.
Enter Alistair Clarke, a chartered accountant who is no stranger to the energy industry. After spending five years at Price Waterhouse Coopers, Clarke spent ten years working for FSTE 10 Oil and Gas company BG Group.
Responsible for exploration and production of liquid natural gas, BG Group is currently active in more than 20 different countries and employes more than 5,200 people, but after ten years working in the fossil fuel industry, Clarke decided to make a switch.
“This is a new company, which I founded last year,” Clarke told us in an exclusive Interview. “Previously, I worked for 10 years in the Oil and Gas industry and this provided me with the personal motivation to progress and promote the switch to electric vehicles.”
Clarke says the Oil and Gas industry is facing “increasing difficulty” in exploration and extraction, something which he said underlined to him the need to move towards a more “efficient use of resources.”
“The next decision was whether I was going to rely on others to lead the move to EVs or weather I could take some personal responsibility and set up my own company,” he said.
At the moment Clarke says the eConnect Cars fleet is made up entirely of high-end Nissan LEAFs. While eConnect Cars did examine both the Reanult Zoe and BMW i3 as potential vehicles to use for the exclusive chauffeur-driven service, Clarke said the high-end LEAF Tekna (LEAF SL in the U.S.) offered the best mix of size, luxury, range and price.
Drivers too, appears to like the LEAF. Thomas, one of the fleet’s founding Chauffeurs, noted that “the LEAF is great to drive and gives a fantastic, smooth experience for the passenger.”
While the fleet is currently all-Nissan however, Clarke says the fleet will eventually grow to include other models as more and more all-electric models hit the market.
“The Tesla Model S is under consideration [as a future fleet addition],” he said. “Although [it] may be more of a ‘Driver’s’ car than a chauffeur car. What could be a more exciting option for the future is the Tesla Model X.”
Given the company has just started, Clarke says eConnect Cars is keen to try and handle all the requests it can to provide zero-emissions Chauffeur service to customers in central London, but if for some reason it can’t meet a passenger’s needs eConnect Cars will ensure one of its carefully-selected alternative private colleagues will step in to help out.
As for pricing? Clarke describes eConnect Cars’ price structure as being “comparable” with other chauffeur-driven private hire companies in London, although he notes that in order to promote the company’s strength — short distance trips — the company’s pricing matrix is weighed in favour of shorter trips.
At the moment, bookings can be made by calling 0203 002 5544, but Clarke says online booking via the company’s website and smartphone functionality is being developed.
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