Phoenix eVito

Northumberland-based electric taxi pioneer Phoenix Taxis has added its first all-electric Mercedes-Benz eVito hackney taxi to its fleet.

The long L2 Tourer Pro variant offers flexible seating for up to eight passengers. Supplied by north-east dealer Bell Truck and Van, it is the subject of a year-long Mercedes-Benz Finance contract hire agreement, which includes a grant contribution from the Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV).

Based in Blyth, Phoenix Taxis is a Professional Driver QSi Gold Award-winning operator with a fleet of more than 200 vehicles, serving customers in Northumberland and on Tyneside. Business Manager Michael Carling said: “We already have 50 battery-powered cars on the road, but the eVito represents a new and exciting chapter. It’s our first electric vehicle capable of carrying eight passengers. We’re limited at the moment by social distancing restrictions, of course, but this capacity puts us in prime position to meet demand as soon as these are lifted.”

He added: “We’ll be evaluating the eVito’s performance and usability over the next 12 months. The early signs are very promising, though. It’s extremely smooth and quiet, so provides a very pleasant ride for our driver and passengers. The running costs are very low, plus it’s super clean.”

The eVito is currently assigned to a school run contract, collecting pupils of a local special-needs school – which remains open during the latest lockdown – from their homes in the morning, and dropping them off at the end of the day. It is also undertaking general private hire duties in between.

The eVito’s electric motor produces 114hp and drives the front wheels via a single-speed automatic transmission. Top speed is restricted as standard to 50mph, although this can be increased on request. The eVito’s range of 90-plus miles – supplemented by recuperative charging but reduced by constant driving with a full load – is comfortably sufficient for Phoenix Taxis’ school contract and urban private hire work.