Electric taxis could become a regular sight on Portsmouth’s roads
'FUTURISTIC' electric taxis could be seen in Portsmouth if the council is able to secure funding.
Councillors had the chance this week to inspect a fully electric black cab of the kind that could eventually replace petrol and diesel taxis in the city.
Supplied by the London Electric Vehicle Company, which already provides more than 1,000 cabs in other cities such as London, Bristol and Glasgow, the vehicle comes with built in disabled access and wifi as standard.
Although no funding is currently available, councillors said there was scope to buy some in the future.
Transport boss, Councillor Lynne Stagg, said: 'This is just the start on a journey to investigate how we can reduce air pollution on our roads.
'There are a few possibilities depending on what funds we have. It could be that we are able to buy some and lease them out to companies and individuals to use.
'It would be great to have a council-owned electric taxi fleet but that might not be possible. Whatever we do has to be financially viable, we can't lose public money.'
The cabs can drive up to 80 miles on a fully charged battery. However, at £60,000 per car they are five times the average price of a car bought for use as a taxi, and just over twice the price of a new black cab.
For Steve Mills, a manager at local taxi firm Aqua Cars, the vehicles were impressive but expensive. 'Like most things we would want to see it tried and tested before spending £60,000,' he said. 'That is a lot of money.'
'The cars do tick all the boxes and of course they are helping to save the environment.
'We currently have around 300 taxis that will be out at any one time but only about 50 of those are wheelchair accessible. So these new cabs would not only reduce pollution but improve accessibility.'
Licensing committee chair, Cllr David Fuller, was keen to see air pollution in the city tackled. He said: 'We have over 1,000 taxis and private hire vehicles licensed in Portsmouth and with early indications showing that air pollution in certain areas are getting worse, it is vital we look at how we can support the taxi trade in choosing vehicles that will help us reduce air pollution.'
Environment chief Cllr Dave Ashmore added: 'We are taking the early indications that air pollution is getting worse very seriously and we are committed to improving this for future generations.
'We want Portsmouth to be a leader in clean air.'
It comes after council leader Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson wrote to government for support and funding for schemes to improve air quality in the city, including help to convert all taxis to electric vehicles.
Although Portsmouth City Council provides licences for taxis it doesn't currently own any.