Denbighshire County Council's story
The cars we are offering to licensed drivers as part of the 30 day ‘try before you buy’ scheme is the wheelchair-accessible Nissan Dynamo taxi E-NV200.
Terms of the scheme mean that the taxi drivers can try the vehicle free of charge for 30 days and will get free electric charging at specific locations in the county, as well as vehicle licensing, breakdown cover and insurance.
Already, the pilot has attracted 28 taxi drivers and resulted in thousands of ‘green’ miles for drivers and passengers since starting last autumn. Our thinking is that it will encourage drivers to make the transition to a zero-emission vehicle in the very near future.
The Denbighshire project is the only North Wales pilot of the zero-emission green taxi scheme which is being funded by the Welsh Government as it looks towards reaching the goal of de-carbonising the Welsh taxi fleet entirely by 2028.
And it’s going well. Our statistics show that over a 16-week period from launch until January 20, the vehicles covered 22,711 zero emission miles across the county, providing an average of 1,081 zero emission miles each week as they travel across Prestatyn, Rhyl, Bodelwyddan, St Asaph, Denbigh, Ruthin and Corwen.
We’ve had great feedback from both drivers and passengers too who are mainly doing the morning and afternoon school run. Some children have even commented that it’s like “travelling in a spaceship.”
Useful learnings from Denbighshire County Council
Perseverance – That’s definitely at the top of the list. There will be setbacks and at times you may feel it’s too challenging a process due to the number of partners you will need to involve, but it will all be worth it when the plan comes together.
You need to speak to other local authorities, and not just in Wales. I found that some councils were very helpful, particularly those in Dundee, Nottingham, and Coventry. I’m sure they would do the same for anyone else setting up a similar scheme.
Engage with drivers – this is an absolute must. Go to the taxi ranks with your vehicle where they can talk to you directly and see the car for themselves. If you speak to your local authority, they will have a complete list of licensed drivers and it’s worth seeing if you can email them directly with details about the project.
Know your vehicle inside and out. You are going to get all sorts of questions and you will need to know the answers without hesitation. If things go wrong with anything, like the charging process, you need to be able to explain why and provide advice and a solution. If you know your stuff, you can counter any negative before a driver decides it’s not for him or her.
We have found it helpful to monitor vehicle journeys with dash cams and telematics. It’s good for drivers to know that monitoring is part of the deal.
If you’re going to develop charging infrastructure as part of your project, you can’t start these conversations too soon. Speak to your Distribution Network Operator as a priority at the start.
Be prepared for a potential lack of engagement. Not everyone will see the value of what you are trying to do straight away and that’s only to be expected. What we found was that as soon as one or two drivers come around to the idea, others will follow, because a local taxi service is a small world, and everyone knows everyone. The project’s credibility is not going to come from you, but the drivers who come on board and give it the thumbs up.