When electric cars like the Nissan LEAF first hit the UK car market back in early 2011, there was an understandable reluctance among many mainstream car buyers about the possibility of owning and operating an electric car. While a select band of early-adopters embraced the joys of never having to visit a petrol station again, many more worried about what would happen when they ran out of charge, had fears about the cost of replacing a battery pack when it reached the end of its useful life, or simply didn’t feel an electric car could replace an internal combustion-engined one.
In the UK, private-hire taxi cab companies had similar worries. But when faced with the economics of low running costs, low maintenance requirements and government incentives designed to offset the higher purchase costs, some companies decided to see if the benefits outweighed the risks. Buying one or two electric cars and then, as those cars proved themselves, expanding the number of electric vehicles on their fleets, most have never looked back. Some operators have even replaced their gasoline and diesel-powered cars altogether, becoming a one hundred percent electric fleet.
Today, the number of UK private hire taxi companies making the switch to electric vehicles is higher than ever before, with a variety of different plug-in cars from the (now discontinued) Vauxhall Ampera through to the Tesla Model S carrying out duties on a private hire fleet. But when it comes to market penetration, the Nissan LEAF and Nissan e-NV200 electric vehicles are by far the most popular choice for taxi operators, with more than 140 Nissan-branded electric vehicles in operation across the country.
And as Nissan disclosed yesterday, the cumulative distance travelled by all of those electric minicabs has just crossed the three million-mile mark, equivalent to driving around the world an impressive 120 times.
Were each of those miles covered in a diesel-powered vehicle — the usual choice for minicab operators due to the higher gas-mileage offered by diesel engines over petrol ones — Nissan says more than 899 metric tonnes of CO² would have been emitted into the atmosphere, not to mention a considerable amount of nitrogen oxides and other pollutants.
There are some pretty big fuel savings to be had too. Nissan says that were those 140 Nissan electric taxis powered by diesel instead, the total fuel bill for the 3 million miles travelled by its LEAF and e-NV200s in taxi service would be more than £350,000 ($496,000) at today’s fuel prices. In contrast, the cost of fueling those electric taxis over the same milage works out to £60,000 at 2-pence per mile.
While we’ve seen several UK-based taxi firms operate Nissan LEAF and Nissan e-NV200 electric minivans for many years now, Nissan says there are always new customers joining the electric revolution. One such customer is 203020 Electric in Dundee Scotland, which purchased 30 Nissan LEAFs less than a year ago and set itself up as a one hundred percent electric minicab company.
Encouraged by the forward-thinking attitude to electric vehicles from the local council, 203020 Electric says it has covered more than one million miles in its fleet in just a year.
Elsewhere in the UK, more than 30 of the 140 Nissan electric taxis in service have covered more than 30,000 miles, while at least four are believed to have rolled over 100,000 miles. One, the first Nissan LEAF to enter service at C&C Taxis in Cornwall, managed that milestone without losing a single bar of capacity, and in that time has only required the usual tyres and brake pads.
At this point of course, we should note that Nissan’s statistics only covers the UK. Elsewhere in the world we know of plenty of other all-electric fleets with everything from the BMW i3 through to the Nissan LEAF, Ford Focus EV and Tesla Model S operating as minicabs. Cumulatively, we’d expect the number of all-electric miles covered by those vehicles to be several orders of magnitude higher than the miles covered by just Nissan’s all-electric UK taxi fleet.
We mustn’t forget ride-sharing platforms like Uber and Lyft either, since many electric car owners take advantage of the low running costs of an electric car to earn some extra cash at weekends through the peer-to-peer platform.
Do you regularly take an electric taxi? Where to and where from? And how would you rate the experience compared to an internal combustion engine one?
Leave your thoughts in the Comments below.
You can also support us directly as a monthly supporting member by visiting Patreon.com.