London’s first modern fleet of battery-powered mini cabs has been launched by private hire company Thriev.
Some 20 Chinese-built BYD E6 electric cars have been registered with Transport for London as private hire vehicles, rising to 50 by May. After that, says Thriev founder Arvind Vij, the company should be adding as many as 20-30 each month.
The fleet will run 24 hours per day, seven days per week and four specially trained drivers will be allocated to each car. Vij says that the cost of using an E6 will be "much lower" than the cost of a black cab and will also undercut the big mini cab operators.
Although the E6 cannot be registered as a ‘Black Cab’ because of the turning circle requirements, Thriev is aiming at the established 50,000-strong mini cab market, which relies heavily on diesel-powered MPVs.
The BYD E6 is powered by a 40kWh battery and should offer a range of around 180 miles on a single charge, according to Isbrand Ho, managing director of BYD’s export division. The E6 was launched as a taxi in Hong Kong last March and a fleet is already operating in the Netherlands.
Thriev says the taxi fleet will be backed up by a network of high-speed ‘superchargers’, which are being installed in partnership with British Gas. The deal also promises that Thriev’s chargers will tap into the UK’s supply of renewable energy.
With the cost of 1kWh of charging costing around 10p, a full day’s 200 miles of driving will cost between £5 and £8, depending what time of the day the car is recharged, according to Vij. The battery pack will manage 4000 recharges using a high-speed charger, says BYD, which would give the battery pack a 10-year lifespan.