The deal with minicab car hire firm Openstart Ltd is the first to be signed through the Public Carriage Office (which officially approves London minicabs).
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).
Toyota claims the Plug-in models may be able to offer “hours of emissions-free running around the capital”: the batteries have a 15-mile range and a full recharge takes an hour.
A charging cable is included with the cars that can be connected to all public charging points across London.
Plug-ins are ‘best of both worlds’
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.
“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.”
Plug-in hybrid and full EV models are becoming increasingly appealing in London as doubts grow over the eco benefits of diesel-engined vehicles. London Mayor Boris Johnson has already expressed his desire to charge all non Euro 6 diesels a £10 Congestion Charge surcharge by 2020.
Islington Council is also now fining diesel drivers £20 if they don’t turn their engines off while idling – just the scenario a minicab waiting for a fare to arrive could face.