Phoenix Taxis say move to low carbon has attracted Department for Transport's interest
A Northumberland taxi firm says its move to adopt electric vehicles has helped to secure a series of major contracts with the region’s blue chip employers and attracted the attention of the Department for Transport.
Blyth-based Phoenix Taxis began using Nissan Leaf cars in 2012, following funding from the Charge Your Car campaign, and now managing director Alex Hurst says the firm is attracting attention from numerous other taxi operators across the country - keen to learn from their success.
Phoenix has grown its fleet to 160 vehicles, including electric and hybrids, and has also invested in much of its own charge point infrastructure.
The firm is now contracted by the likes of Accenture and Bond Dickinson in the region - firms who were impressed by its green credentials.
Alex, who also sits on the board of Zero Carbon Futures, told Bdaily: “Establishing ourselves as a low carbon taxi provider has really set us up for growth now that we’re coming out of recession.
“We’ve had enquiries from other taxi firms up and down the country who want to know how we did it. We’re also being used as a case study by the Department for Transport - who want to see how Phoenix’s activity can be used to inform policy for the private sector.
“So far local authorities have been offered funding, but big businesses also need incentivising.”
Alex says a lack of clarity in the governmental low carbon agenda has not troubled Phoenix because the fuel savings in electric and hybrid vehicles have been so high.
He added: “It’s a no brainer. A lot of other firms in the area aren’t bothered about it - which is great for us, because we’ve now got the edge.
“Some people think that taxi drivers are notoriously resistant to change, but we’ve got drivers who have been in the game for 20 years now and they’ve taken to electric and love it.
“When you’re making savings of £400 a month, frankly, why wouldn’t you go electric?”
Alex says that if Newcastle and North Tyneside councils expand their network of rapid charge points - the firm would almost certainly go 100% electric.
He added: “When you go to other countries like Japan, low carbon transport is now ingrained in their society. That’s what we hope to do here.
“My ambition is to have electric taxis picking up tourists and businesspeople from Newcastle Airport and Newcastle Central Station. The appetite isn’t quite there yet, but our work with the likes of Zero Carbon Futures aims to encourage more thinking about the benefits.”