A NORTHUMBERLAND taxi firm is believed to be the first in the region to commit to going green with electric vehicles.
Phoenix Taxis in Blyth has taken delivery of its first Nissan Leaf electric car and is planning to add to the fleet. The business received funding through the Charge Your Car scheme to fit six charge points in its car park, which other drivers can also use.
Managing director Alex Hurst said the business is aiming to quickly add to the initial Nissan Leaf.
“We’ve managed to secure an agreement with Nissan to get more at a discounted price. We are trialling this one for a couple of weeks like we do with any new vehicle,” he said.
“Having EV [electric vehicle] charge points on site makes the goal of running electric taxis a realistic prospect and we are anticipating having our first passenger-licensed electric vehicle on the road by the end of next month.
“By this time next year, we hope to have 10 electric vehicles. If we don’t grow, that will be about 20% of our fleet.”
He says that converting the 150-taxi business to purely electric vehicles is “the goal ultimately”.
Phoenix has pursed a green agenda for some time. The business, which has 40 full-time staff working from the Blyth office plus “couple of hundred” self-employed drivers, runs a number of hybrid powered and LPG- fuelled cars.
“We set ourselves carbon-cutting targets, which something our business clients like,” said Hurst. “The benefits are twofold - the financial aspect of fuel saving is also absolutely massive.”
He admits that being based in Northumberland rather than in the city makes it currently more difficult to go entirely electric.
“It is harder at the moment, but getting the charging points here is a huge plus point,” said Hurst.
“Newcastle is fantastic [for electric charging facilities], but we need other people to get involved.”
There are currently almost 500 charging points for electric cars in the North East. The points at Phoenix’s car park are open around the clock for anyone with an electric vehicle to use.
Coun Jeff Reid, leader of Northumberland County Council, said: “I am very pleased to hear about this initiative.
“It complements other activity on renewable energy in the Blyth area, including the work at Narec.
“Local businesses clearly have an important part to play in rolling out this innovative technology.”