Electric Vehicle Taxi transition

Air Quality reviews locally identified taxi emissions as a significant source of air pollution within the Cambridge Air Quality Management area.


Detailed analysis showed they were contributing more than 10 per cent of polluting emissions in some city centre streets. With the help of funding from the Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) we implemented a project to transition to an ultra-low emission taxi fleet through both licensing policy changes, supporting infrastructure and some financial incentives.

The challenge

How to Reduce Pollution and Carbon Emissions from the Cambridge Taxi Fleet.

The solution

Policy to mandate electric vehicles (EV) vehicles for newly licensed taxis & introduce dedicated taxi rapid charging infrastructure in Cambridge.

New policies and incentives requiring a shift to ultra-low and zero emission taxis were unanimously approved at Licensing Committee in March 2018 and are as follows: 

  • A licence fee exemption for zero emission vehicles from 1 April 2018.
  • A licence fee discount for ultra-low emission vehicles from 1 April 2018.
  • An extended age limit for zero emission vehicles from 1 April 2018.
  • An extended age limit for ultra-low vehicles from 1 April 2018.
  • A set date for all new Licensed Saloon Vehicles to be ultra-low or zero emission from 1 April 2020.
  • A set date for all Licensed Saloon Vehicles to be ultra-low or zero emission from 1 April 2028.
  • To reduce the total number of Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles within the Hackney Carriage Fleet from 65 per cent to 50 per cent (213 to 163) and those 50 plates to be replaced by zero emission vehicles.
  • A date to be set for all Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles to be ultra-low or zero emission as and when the market allows by December 2018.
  • To restrict city centre access to ultra-low and zero emission licensed vehicles only by December 2028.

The above changes have ensured a challenging, but fair transition to Plug in Hybrid and fully electric taxis within ten years, significantly reducing polluting emissions in the city centre where taxis currently account for 11 per cent of nitrous oxides emissions.

  • £426,000 awarded by OLEV and £200,000 of City Council and Greater Cambridge Partnership (GCP) capital has been committed to deliver a network of 21 Fast and Rapid Electric Vehicle Chargers by 2022, to support the taxi trade in this transition. 

The first twelve charge points have been installed at key locations indicated by the taxi trade and practical considerations. A further nine charge points will be installed before March 2022.

The impact

To date, following implementation of the compliance with the policy in April 2020, some 10 per cent of the Hackney Carriage fleet is now fully electric.

How is the new approach being sustained?

The policies in place mandated the transition.

Lessons learned

  • Early and ongoing meaningful consultation is required (we began with a feasibility study that canvassed driver and operator views on the transition, infrastructure location, costs and vehicle availability and this influenced both the policy and infrastructure provision.
  • Installing rapid charging infrastructure is not straightforward, there are many significant constraints on locating chargers, electricity supply critical amongst them.
  • It is important to demonstrate that the full business case for drivers needs to be financially sound – there were a couple of key policy changes which made the transition more attractive: firstly we extended the age limit for EV taxis to 15 years compared to eight years for Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) taxis and we capped the cost of EV rapid charges to 25p / kWh for taxis on our network.

These changes offset the higher initial capital outlay for taxi drivers.

A line of Cambridge's electric taxis


Contact: [email protected]