The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, today (Thursday 16 January) announced plans that would require all new taxis presented for licensing in the capital to be zero emission capable from 1 January 2018, with the expectation that they will automatically operate in zero emission mode while in areas where the capital's air quality is at its worst such as parts of central London.
The Mayor will confirm his plan at TfL's 'New Taxis for London' event today, where he will meet five manufacturers developing zero emission capable taxis - Frazer-Nash, Nissan, Karsan, London Taxi Company and Mercedes - several of whom are displaying vehicles at the event that will secure the future of the iconic London taxi which is famous around the world.
The news follows a pledge the Mayor made last year to introduce an Ultra Low Emission Zone in central London by 2020.
Since then TfL has been exploring ways to introduce the scheme in 2020 and have focused on the development of options.
Further engagement on the options for an Ultra Low Emission Zone will be undertaken this year.
To assist taxi drivers and encourage the early adoption of the new greener vehicles before the 2018 deadline, the Mayor and TfL are now exploring a number of supporting measures with the Office of Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) and are in discussion with the Green Investment Bank around financial options to help the capital's transition to zero emission capable taxis.
Mayor of London, Boris Johnson said: `The London taxi is iconic in so many ways - not least in terms of its eye-catching looks and the way it is piloted by wily experts who know the capital like the back of their hand.
`To date its one Achilles heel, particularly of older models, has been the pollution generated by chugging diesel engines.
`As part of my mission to improve our air quality and drive innovation, I'm making a firm pledge to Londoners that from 2018 all taxis presented for licensing should be zero emission capable.
`The cleaner, greener vehicles I've seen today are proof that the evolution of the great London cab is well and truly underway.'
Garrett Emmerson, TfL Surface Transport Chief Operating Officer, said: `We will continue to work closely with taxi manufacturers to get 'New Taxis for London' carrying passengers on the streets of the capital as soon as possible. The manufacturers at this event today are clearly well advanced in delivering the next generation of green taxi.
'We believe these vehicles will be available well in advance of the challenging deadline set today by the Mayor.
'We are also working with the wider industry and the Green Investment Bank to provide assistance to cab drivers who want to be among the first to get behind the wheel of these cutting edge vehicles that will significantly contribute to improving air quality in the capital as well as delivering benefits to cabbies themselves, in terms of reduced running costs.'
TfL will continue to work with and support all the manufacturers right through to manufacture, to assist them in meeting London's taxi vehicle requirements, including wheelchair and other accessibility requirements.
Through Source London the capital already has one of the most developed public charging networks in the world with almost 1,400 charge points.
The scheme will be managed by IER from the summer and they have ambitious plans to increase the number of charge points across the capital to 6,000 by 2018, with targeted services for taxi drivers.
Currently road transport is responsible for around 80 per cent of airborne pollution in the parts of central London where air quality is the worst, with black cabs contributing to 30 per cent of particulate matter emissions in those areas.
The new zero emission capable taxis being developed include both plug-in full series hybrid vehicles and full electric models.
These vehicles will have the ability to operate in passenger service without emitting harmful pollutants.
The Mayor has already delivered on a number of measures to address emissions from taxis and to retire the oldest vehicles in the London taxi fleet.
In January 2012, a 15 year age limit was introduced for taxis along with a requirement that all newly licensed taxis must meet, as a minimum, the Euro V emissions standard. Around 3,000 of the most polluting taxis have also been removed from the London fleet.
TfL has also undertaken a campaign to educate drivers on the fuel savings and reduced environmental impact that can be achieved by not leaving their engines idling at taxi ranks.