WeFlex, which supplies cars to private hire drivers on a rent-to-buy basis, has switched to supplying only battery-electric cars. The company has announced a rebrand to coincide with the change in strategy, with a new green ‘lightning bolt’ logo.
WeFlex was founded by former Climatecars boss Nicko Williamson. Climatecars was a pioneering “green” private hire operator with an all-hybrid fleet, launched in 2007, which was acquired by Addison Lee in 2015.
Williamson said the change was being driven by a number of factors in the London market. “When the congestion charge rose to £15 a day, the mindset of drivers suddenly shifted to electric vehicles,” he said. “EVs went from not being easy to sell to everybody wanting one.”
Forthcoming changes to the congestion charge later this year will see plug-in hybrids lose their exemption too, which is “really accelerating the adoption of pure EVs”, he said. The availability of EVs with higher ranges of above 200 miles is also a major factor, he added.
The Uber Clean Air Fund, which offers weekly discounts to Uber drivers wanting to go electric, has also been a major driving force, he added. “Over last summer we saw that drivers were ready to switch to electric, so we decided to stop buying ICE cars.”
WeFlex is working closely with Uber, but not exclusively. The focus at the moment is on ride-hailing drivers. “We don’t have a product aimed at private hire fleet operators at the moment, but we’re working on it,” he said.
Currently around a third of the 700 cars being supplied via WeFlex are EVs, and that percentage is rising as existing contracts come to an end. “We’re working with Hyundai, Kia, Nissan, Jaguar and MG,” Williamson said, singling out the MG5 estate for special praise. “It’s just great for the sector. Basic but nicely made and with a 200-plus mile range – and so much cheaper than other EVs.”
WeFlex took delivery of its first MG5 two weeks ago, and the car is keenly priced. Currently WeFlex offers the MG5 for £135 per week, considerably cheaper than Nissan Leaf Accenta (£146), Hyundai Ioniq Electric (£165) or Kia e-Niro (£199).
WeFlex is also carbon-offsetting all its own costs, and is planting a tree for each car it supplies. Williamson believes a market recovery will drive strong growth for WeFlex, and he plans to expand the number of cars on rent-to-buy to around 1,200 within 12 months.