The CEO of Gett UK is targeting the mass adoption of electric cabs as the taxi giant unveiled plans to go ‘carbon positive’.

Matteo de Renzi says there are already between 200 and 300 of the new LEVC TX black cabs on UK roads – the majority of them on his company’s platform – and he wants to see 2,000 by the end of 2019.

From there he expects a “snowball effect” due to improving technology and infrastructure plus greater public demand for green vehicles.

“I'd be happy to have at least 2,000 electric cabs by the end of 2019, which is an ambitious target,” De Renzi told BusinessCloud.

“When we reach that point, we might see a snowball effect. By then the charging infrastructure will be in place and there will be a natural ‘word of mouth’ [influence] between drivers who have seen the benefit of the new vehicle.

“There will also be an increasing appetite for the public to travel in the new vehicle: Londoners in particular are very keen to reduce their carbon footprint in some way because they're aware of the challenges the city has around pollution.

“There will also be a natural ageing of the old fleet so we can expect an acceleration at the beginning of 2020 of the adoption of the new vehicle.”

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Matteo De Renzi

The Mayor of London recently set out a series of initiatives to fight pollution in the capital.

The registration of diesel taxis will be banned from January 2018 while the black cab fleet – at present around 22,000, with around half of those on Gett’s platform – will have to be fully electric by 2025.

“It will take time before the majority of the fleet is converted into a fully electric one – but I'm keen to see a rapid acceleration over the next few quarters,” said De Renzi (pictured above).

“That's when the impact will start becoming sizeable and meaningful.”

Gett operates in several major UK cities and is actively promoting the adoption of the LEVC TX cabs in London and Coventry.

“The new cab is an expensive asset,” De Renzi explained. “It's a matter of investment analysis for a cabbie to decide to give up his or her older model and buy the new one.

“Of course they save fuel – the savings can run into thousands of pounds a year – but we try to give them an added incentive to break that barrier of adoption.

“We're offering all our cabbies who buy or lease the new LEVC TX six months commission free on Gett. It gives them a quicker return on their investment in the vehicle.”

De Renzi says that the new vehicles are spacious and have enough battery capacity to run for a full day’s work but he expects massive improvements in the future.

“Five years ago it would have been impossible for a cabbie to drive an electric car all day,” he said. “The capacities of the batteries are accelerating almost exponentially.

“The next generation of batteries will have a capacity perhaps four or five times that of the current one.”

Gett is looking to deliver rides for customers which are carbon neutral and even carbon positive in some cases.

The company is offsetting 7,500 tonnes of CO2 – the amount it is expected to produce in the following 12 months – by investing in accredited carbon reduction projects provided by Carbon Clear.

These include a Wind Power Generation project in India that displaces the burning of fossil fuels, and the Madre de Dios Project in the Peruvian Amazon that dramatically reduces deforestation.

And customers can choose to ride ‘carbon positive’ by adding an optional 20p to their cab fare which will be donated to 12 central London schools identified in the Mayor of London’s school air quality audit programme.

The audits, supported by Transport for London’s Local Implementation Plans, have made recommendations to reduce emissions and exposure to NO2 around London’s schools.

The schools will be able to use the money from Gett Green to help with measures to serve their air quality goals, as outlined in the Healthy Schools London programme.

De Renzi said in a statement: “Air quality is increasingly becoming more of an issue, not just in London, but across the UK.

“By becoming carbon neutral, we’re incredibly proud to be helping cities achieve cleaner air and reduce pollution levels.

“With Gett Green, we are also providing our customers with the option to be ‘carbon positive’, to further support the cleaning of London’s air.”

Mark Chadwick, CEO of Carbon Clear, said: “The science tells us that carbon neutrality is necessary to protect the planet and sustain our livelihoods. Companies making bold commitments to carbon neutrality are taking the lead in climate action.

“The offsetting projects that Gett are supporting are subject to rigorous international standards to ensure they deliver the promised emissions reductions.

“As well as this, these projects support sustainable development in international communities and have a tangible impact on people’s lives”.