Green Tomato Cars is a private hire taxi company based in London. It started in 2006 with four Toyota Prius hybrids and has since expanded significantly while transitioning to greener technologies. The fleet now includes 20 Mercedes E Class plug-in hybrids, 27 Toyota Mirai hydrogen fuel cell vehicles and 1 fully electric Tesla Model S. Each taxi is typically run 5 or 6 days a week with an average daily mileage of 120 – 150 miles. The plug-in hybrids are used for a premium taxi service and corporate customers. 70% of the fleet is still made up of traditional Toyota Prius hybrids (not plug-in) however the share of plug-in electric and hydrogen taxis is growing.
Advice to other fleets
"From a practicality point-of-view it is important to check the refuelling infrastructure situation in your area. It is also useful to look for opportunities to partner with other local businesses to drive the expansion of the infrastructure, e.g. local building developments. Finally, we think that driver engagement is extremely important – this should address their concerns and how their new taxi will compare to conventional models."
How did they do it?
Green Tomato Cars began their transition to zero emission vehicles by trialling two Toyota Mirais. The reaction of the drivers and passengers was very positive, encouraging them to add more to the fleet. Hydrogen cars are still a relatively expensive technology, so the company joined a European-wide project to help with funding – the “Zero Emission Fleet vehicles For European Roll-out” (ZEFER). Through ZEFER 25 Toyota Mirais have been added to the Green Tomato Cars fleet and they are now looking to add more.
The 20 plug-in hybrids were procured using standard lease contracts. Overall, the drivers are happy with the cars and around 70% say that the cost of charging influences when and where they charge. This allows them to take advantage of how cheap electricity fuel costs are per mile and save money compared to drivers of conventional taxis.
Green Tomato Cars arranged refuelling training for the hydrogen taxi drivers. This was given by the refuelling station operators (ITM Power and Air Liquide) at no cost to the company. The plug-in hybrid drivers were not given specific training but received an induction which explained the places available for charging.