London minicab company Openstart has ordered 80 Toyota Prius Plug-in cars, making the plug-in hybrid hatchbacks available to private hire operators for the first time through the Public Carriage Office (PCO).
The firm already runs regular Prius and Prius+ and believes the zero emissions capabilities of the Plug-in models will offer further significant benefits – particularly given growing awareness of London’s local air pollution hotspots (and resultant EU fines).
The company has already taken delivery of 50 of its newcomers and all of the plug-ins will be equipped with a cable suitable for use with public charging points.
Prius Plug-in has the potential to offer hours of emissions-free driving around the capital, thanks to its excellent all-electric driving range – according to conditions, around 15 miles can be achieved in EV mode, with zero petrol consumption. The lithium-ion battery means a full recharge can be achieved in just an hour and a half, simply by connecting the car to a workplace, home or roadside power supply.
Hamid Tehrani, Openstart’s owner and managing director, said: “We have always been pioneers of new technology in the PCO, right from when we first introduced automatic transmission to our fleet, something that’s gone on to become a default feature.”
“We are delighted now to be including Prius Plug-in, introducing our customers to the great benefits of Toyota’s simple, reliable, low emissions plug-in hybrid system.”
Stuart Ferma, Toyota’s National Fleet Sales Manager, said: “Our hybrid Prius and seven-seat Prius+ are proven favourites as private hire vehicles and we’re delighted that we are able to help Openstart develop the potential of Prius Plug-in as another strong proposition through the PCO.
“Prius Plug-in can deliver lower running costs, lower emissions and ease of use in the urban environment. And unlike all-electric vehicles it’s a ‘best-of-both-worlds’ proposition, as the hybrid petrol engine is automatically engaged should energy levels be depleted, or extra power be needed.”