Towards a greener future in the ride-hailing industry
FreeNow have committed to having only Zero Emission Capable black cabs on their app by 2024
Free Now’s Mariusz Zabrocki explains what the ride-hailing firm is doing to make a truly connected and green transport network a reality
One of the key themes of COP26, taking place in November, is the importance of Green Transport. At FREE NOW, we are committed to ensuring that the ride-hailing industry, and our company in particular, is a leading force for change.
Here at FREE NOW, we are witnessing first-hand how the ride-hailing industry is rapidly changing. With a ban on new petrol and diesel cars from 2030 and the introduction of new green number plates to raise awareness of the growing numbers of cleaner vehicles on the road, it is clear that the UK means business when it comes to improving air quality and embracing new technology.
But if we want to create a greener future, to allow our children to breathe cleaner air and to reduce congestion, then all of us, industry, government and the public need to move faster and do more.
For our part, FREE NOW is committed to doing all that we can to help our partner drivers migrate from combustion engines to Zero Emission Capable (ZEC) and Electric taxis, to help reduce emissions in those cities in which we operate. Earlier this year we launched our green pledge which committed to going fully electric in key markets we operate in across Europe by 2030. Here in the UK, we want to go even faster than that and have committed to having only Zero Emission Capable vehicles on our app by 2025, and on the black cab side even earlier, by 2024. In addition to focusing our efforts on reducing greenhouse gas emissions per passenger kilometre as much as possible, we will offset all remaining emissions from 2020 onwards.
As part of this, we have announced ambitious investments to support drivers to make the switch to electric and encourage passengers to go green. We are pledging to provide grant support to drivers who choose to purchase a ZEC vehicle, increased investment in passenger incentives to use electric vehicles among a range of other initiatives.
Already more than 60% of black cab trips on the app are taken in ZEC vehicles. We have access to the most ZEC vehicles in London and with waiting times of under 2 minutes in central London as more drivers trade in their combustion engine vehicles for green alternatives, there has never been a better time to book an electric taxi or Private Hire Vehicle(PHV).
But if we are to achieve these ambitious goals then more must be done. For a start, we need to do everything we can to encourage and support drivers making a switch to electric taxis and PHV. While there is a comprehensive system of grants in place we believe that the government should consider the introduction of a national interest free loan scheme that would allow drivers to access low-cost finance.
As importantly we need to ensure we are doing everything we can to ensure we build a national network of charging points. Drivers of all vehicle types, need confidence that they can access chargers quickly and efficiently without major impediments.
It is vital that taxi and PHV can access these charging points. If we’re in any doubt as to the high demand for EV chargepoint infrastructure from this sector, the London Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Taskforce report estimated, by 2025, in London around 80% of the electricity usage from the EV charging in the capital will be from taxis and PHVs.
It is vital that we prioritse the roll-out of rapid charging hubs. But equally as important is the need to ensure that drivers have access to home charging kits. In addition, the government and local authorities can do more to support the switch to electric vehicles by committing where they can to using only electric taxis or PHVs if needed for work transport rather than an ICE vehicle. We are also urging the government to include taxi usage as part of the next iteration of the Greening Government Commitments.
We have already taken some bold action in the last year, from bringing black cabs and PHVs together under one platform, offering the largest electric fleet in Europe, to expanding our micro mobility offerings across Europe, and hope to introduce them soon in the UK. We are pushing ourselves, our developers and our markets to make a truly connected and green transport network a reality.