Birmingham taxi project to clean up the city’s air quality moves up a gear

Harborne GaragePlans to improve Birmingham’s air quality by replacing the city’s taxi fleet with a cleaner LPG solution have moved up a gear this week.

Birmingham City Council has today signed the Government’s grant aid paperwork to fund the conversion of 63 black cabs which will run on cheaper, cleaner LPG fuel in a bid to tackle the escalating air quality crisis across the UK.

The Birmingham NOx Reduction Champions project – which was announced last year – is a partnership between the council and Autogas Limited approved converter, Harborne Garage in Selly Oak.

The project will see 63 of the city’s black cabs repowered from diesel engines to new petrol engines running on LPG fuel. And today five cabs were booked into Harborne Garage to have LPG fuelled engines fitted.

Autogas’ new repowered Euro 6 compliant TX4 black cab – which runs on LPG – emits a staggering 80 percent less NOx emissions compared with a normal diesel powered version in addition to significant reductions of particulate matter. In addition to reducing emissions, taxi drivers will benefit from huge fuel cost savings of around 20 percent compared to when they were running on diesel.

Linda Gomersall, General Manager of Autogas Ltd, said: “Autogas Ltd is delighted to be working alongside Birmingham City Council as part of their ‘Birmingham NOx Reduction Champions’ project in retrofitting their taxi fleet to run on LPG.

“With an increase in levels of pollutants such as nitrogen dioxide that are harmful to human health, it remains imperative that these air quality issues are addressed in Birmingham and across the UK.

“As such, Birmingham City Council should be highly commended for adopting measures such as retrofitting their taxi fleet to run on cleaner LPG fuel, demonstrating that both locally and nationally, they are already at the forefront of tackling air pollution from the most polluting vehicles and meeting the demands set out as part of the Government’s Clean Air Zones programme, well ahead of the deadline in 2020.”

Anne Shaw, Assistant Director – Transportation and Connectivity at Birmingham City Council, said: “We have to introduce a Clean Air Zone as part of the Government’s strategy to bring the country into line with the law.

“The fact our city has an ageing fleet of cabs means we need to look at how we can work with drivers to re-profile the vehicles serving customers in the city as their impact on air quality is significant.

“Through the funding the council has successfully unlocked from the Government, we’ve been able to play a part in forming links with technology providers and engineers to come up with part of the solution to one of the city’s major public health issues.

“This is one of a package of measures and investment that will encourage people to use other fuels and forms of transport in the city. We’ll continue looking at ways in which to develop partnerships and encourage innovation to achieve this.”

The Birmingham NOx Reduction Champions project could prove to be an answer to helping improve air quality in other polluted cities and towns.

The cost of repowering an existing diesel powered taxi to LPG costs approximately £8,000 and drivers are said to recoup the cost of conversion in less than two years. Drivers can also conveniently refuel from any of the hundreds of forecourts which already offer autogas LPG.

Steve Law, of Harborne Garage, said: “Harborne Garage Ltd is delighted to be awarded the Birmingham NOx Reduction Champions project contract. This is a moment in time that could change the iconic black cab that we know and love forever.

“We are all aware that the NOx pollution produced by these vehicles is not acceptable in the world we live in today. Eighteen months ago we set out to provide a solution for this and so the team was created.

“After many months of technical challenges the team achieved the goal of central Government approval of the Taxi TX1 and TX2 NOx reduction solution.

“We would like to take this opportunity to thank all of the team involved for achieving such a challenging task. With thanks to Autogas Ltd, Kronenburg Management Systems, Vogels and a special thanks to Sylvia Broadley at Birmingham City Council for her long-standing support from concept to reality.

“This project will go a long way to help clean up the air that we, our children and grandchildren breathe in Birmingham and we are very proud to be within a team of technical experts who created the solution.”

Autogas LPG powered taxis are widely used in other cities around the world who are concerned with air quality issues. For example, 90 percent of taxis in Tokyo run on LPG and they are also widely found in Hong Kong and Istanbul.