Climate change is arguably the greatest threat to the world today, with our reliance on petrol and diesel guzzling cars a key concern. Indeed, as part of its commitment to a greener transport future, the UK government has recently pledged that by 2030 the sale of new petrol and diesel cars and vans will be phased out. New plug-in and hybrid cars will still be allowed to be sold until 2035.
It’s not just the government and the British public who are trying to make changes. Ride hailing businesses such as Uber are also making important moves in this area. For example, Uber has announced that within 10 years 100% of rides through its app in the UK will take place in electric vehicles.
With such ambitious targets, these government and business moves have sparked a surge in online searches for electric cars by taxi drivers keen to get ahead of the competition.
However, unlike finding the right taxi insurance with Taxi Insurer, buying an electric car in the UK today is not a simple thing to do. Price, range, charging, location, running costs, your driving habits and even the weather all come into play.
So, if you’re an Uber taxi driver should you buy an electric car? Environmentally speaking, it’s a 100% yes. But, when you take other factors into account, it’s more complicated. Read our quick guide to the issues to help you decide.
In the past, electric cars were considered to be high-end, luxury vehicles, with big price tags to match. This made them unsuitable for Uber drivers looking for a more affordable option.
However, recent developments in the market have made the idea of using a battery-powered car for Uber a clear possibility. For example, a quick search of car auction websites will find a second-hand Peugeot ION or Nissan Leaf for under £5,000.
While if you’re in the market for a new set of wheels, you could get the 145-mile Mini Electric for £25,100 (including the government Plug-In Car Grant of £3,000), or £26,995 for a 245-mile Renault Zoe.
Both are small cars, so depending on your taxi business you may want something a bit larger like the 165-mile Hyundai Ioniq Electric for £30,000.
If you’re one of the 45,000 Uber drivers operating in London then you could also benefit from a deal signed with Nissan to help drivers switch to fully electric vehicles. Nissan is making 2,000 of its electric Leafs available to Uber drivers at a special discount which they can rent or buy outright.
London drivers can also use money accumulated from Uber’s clean air fee, which charges riders 15p per mile on all London journeys. This is intended to help pay for an electric car and ongoing running costs. Launched in January 2019, it has raised an impressive £100m so far.
According to Uber, a driver using the app for an average of 40 hours per week could receive around £3,000 towards an electric car in two years’ time and £4,500 in three years. While a driver who averages 20 hours per week could apply for around £1,500 in two years and £2,250 in three years.
Even those working outside London can benefit from the lower running costs of electric vehicles compared to non-electric equivalents. A recent report from Europe’s leading clean transport campaign group made some interesting findings.
Looking at costs over the whole use time of an electric vehicle for a typical ride-hailing driver, the European Federation for Transport and Environment found a clear result. A medium electric vehicle such as a Nissan Leaf was, on average, 14% cheaper to run than an equivalent diesel vehicle.
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Many earlier electric vehicles had limited appeal to professional drivers because of their short driving range.
However, recent technological developments mean all that is changing. Most of today’s affordable electric cars have a real-world range of more than 150 miles or more, which could be workable for a taxi driver that does short city journeys every day.
However, remember that range is dependent on many factors. For example, while the Renault Zoe has a 245-mile range, the average real-world driving figures are 233 miles in summer and 150 miles in winter.
These figures are also affected by the starting charge of the battery, accessories fitted after registration, weather conditions, driving styles and vehicle load.
Having reliable, accessible charging near where you live is an important factor when deciding whether to invest in an electric vehicle.
If an Uber driver doesn’t have their own private driveway or ability to charge from home, then they’ll be almost completely reliant on the public electric vehicle charging infrastructure in the UK.
While this is improving all the time, there is still a long way to go before you don’t need to worry about where to get a top-up of charge.
For example, in London the concentration of chargers is far higher in affluent boroughs like Kensington and Westminster than in boroughs such as Newham and Tower Hamlets where Uber drivers are more likely to live.
While Uber is investing in the charging infrastructure in these places, there is still much work to be done.
Making your business ready for future challenges is a key part of success in the competitive taxi industry. That’s why the specialist team at Taxi Insurer are always looking to come up with ways to help you stay ahead.
For example, our interest-free payment plans are here to make your payments more manageable alongside other expenses.
Our taxi insurance comes in a variety of different forms, from third party, fire and theft to comprehensive cover. Public liability insurance and employers’ liability insurance can also be added on.
Policyholders can also benefit from no claims bonus protection, a UK-based call centre, and a 24-hour claims management service. Arranging cover through Taxi Insurer couldn’t be easier.
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Policy benefits, features and discounts offered may very between insurance schemes or cover selected and are subject to underwriting criteria. Information contained within this article is accurate at the time of publishing but may be subject to change.