Feature story: Electrifying urban mobility services

With 5,000 private hire vehicles (PHV) in London and 60,000 vehicles globally, we are uniquely positioned to provide perspectives on the potential to integrate EVs into the fleet of the future, from the vantage point of a global mobility services operator. 

Earlier this year, we launched a six-month mVentures-led pilot with Audi to trial its fully electric e-tron in our fleet to fully understand the opportunities and challenges of a full EV service. The trial aims to provide operational insights into real-world performance and considerations for an all-electric fleet that will help with next decisions on where to take our fleet in the future. 

In readiness for the pilot, we worked with Transport for London (TfL) to ensure regulatory compliance for the project duration, and our chauffeurs were trained by Audi’s EV specialists to ensure a seamless passenger experience. Charging was a careful consideration for us, with some chauffeurs having access to charging at home, and others using the public charging infrastructure – there will be plenty more on findings to date, along with new insight on logistic and operational challenges – and opportunities in Catherine Hutt’s EVs in Cities and Fleets seminar at LCV2019 

Since 2015, our Group has made a range of investments to help reduce congestion and emissions, including a carbon offsetting initiative under our Greener Future Programme that ensures all UK journeys are carbon neutral. Earlier this year, we invested £41m in 1,200 new VW Sharans, creating a 5,000-vehicle strong fleet compliant with TfL’s Ultra-Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) standard. We have also committed to providing customers in London with autonomous vehicle rideshare services by 2021 through Project Endeavour – a part of the solution to intercity congestion. 

Of course, making this transformational shift to a Zero Emission Capable (ZEC) fleet is not something we can achieve alone. As part of the Mayor of London’s Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Delivery Plan, we committed to a 100% ZEC fleet by 2022. In order to achieve this, and even get there sooner, we need a significant increase in provision of a rapid charging network and we also need vehicle manufacturers to step up to the challenge of delivery the right vehicles.  

The six-month pilot is now well underway, and these data-led findings would provide wider learnings for the industry, city planners and authorities about the ease of integration of EVs into a large-scale fleet, and the current state of London and the UK’s EV infrastructure. Stay tuned for updates on our progress and learnings.