Jonny Goldstone, original co-founder of Green Tomato Cars, has returned to the company as managing director.

Goldstone, who set up the business with Tom Pakenham in 2006, sold the business to transportation giant Transdev in 2010 and left the company in 2015 after setting up a US operation in Washington. He was invited back to the business when previous MD Julia Thomas was promoted within Transdev to help run the Group’s US business from Chicago.

His return comes at a pivotal time in the London private hire market. He said: “Disruptors such as Uber promote themselves as tech companies that happen to need people, with high tech and, by their own admission, unsustainably low prices being the driving force of their businesses.”

He continued: “While everyone at Greentomato Cars embraces the use of technology to help provide the best possible service, I believe the private hire business is all about people: passengers, staff and, above all, drivers.”

Goldstone added: “We see the attractiveness of the largest operators being able to offer near-instant availability, but we know that many people won’t use them because of big questions about their corporate culture and practices, and the reducing quality of a growing proportion of their drivers. Many of our customers would rather wait a little longer or make a pre-booking, knowing the actual journey will be a more pleasant and relaxing experience, with no nasty surprises about the fare at the end of the trip.”

Further development of Greentomato Cars’ environmentally-friendly credentials will be a priority, Goldstone said. He plans to upgrade the fleet to exclusively zero emissions and hybrid vehicles by the end of 2018 and pioneering other innovative transportation services.

He said: “The changes in the competitive landscape and the Mayor’s pledge to introduce an Ultra Low Emission Zone by 2019 have helped us focus on what makes us special. We’re now going back to our roots and will be leading the way with advances in environmentally-friendly vehicle technology and making sure we treat all our customers, drivers and staff, as well as we can. We expect to have some major announcements in both those areas in the coming months.”

He has already introduced an upgraded website with easy, secure booking from the home page and a simplified process for drivers and business clients to apply to work with Greentomato Cars.

Since returning to London in 2015, Goldstone has taken on various consulting roles in the transport industry including a start-up called Piccnicc, offering takeaway delivery in airports.