Your Uber cab is most likely to be a Toyota Prius – and why that’s a good thing

It’s the controversial app that is being blamed for killing London’s black cab industry. Uber is facing tough opposition, and not just from angry taxi drivers – even Transport for London (TfL) has made proposals to curtail its success.

But figures obtained by Motoring Research reveal that the booming private hire car sector could be doing a substantial amount to reduce harmful emissions in the city – with the hybrid Toyota Prius being the most popular car with drivers of private hire vehicles.

Uber good: London’s favourite private hire cars

A Freedom of Information investigation by Motoring Research quizzed Transport for London on the most popular licensed private hire vehicles across Greater London, and discovered that 12,429 Toyota Prius minicabs are currently registered.

It sees the Prius top the list of private hire cars, ahead of conventional fuel vehicles such as the Ford Galaxy. A total of 10,052 Ford Galaxy people carriers are registered as private hire vehicles with TfL.

Toyota GB’s general manager, press relations and social media, Scott Brownlee, said: “The low running costs – both in fuel and maintenance – of hybrids are a big attraction for private hire firms.

“The mechanical reliability of the hybrid system results from the fewer moving parts compared to a conventional cars (e.g. no clutch or starter motor) while the regenerative braking reduces wear on brake pads and discs.

“Combined, it can mean extraordinary high mileages are common with Prius. We know of one private owner who has clocked up over 435,000 fuss-free, reliable miles.”

Private hire cars can only collect pre-booked fares, and include (but are not exclusive to) those used by Uber drivers. The new proposals outlined by Transport for London include a ban on apps showing cars available for hire, and a minimum five-minute wait time between ordering a cab and it arriving.

Campaigners have said it could trigger a ‘backward step’ in the industry, as Uber drivers instead look towards driving black cabs.

If each of these Toyota Prius models were replaced with the latest Euro 6 TX4 black cabs, which emit 222g/km CO2, carbon dioxide emissions from these drivers would more than double. There would also be a significant increase in NOx emissions – with the most-efficient black cabs producing 52mg/km.

Some of those Prius currently being used as private hire vehicles are likely to be plug-in models – which officially return 59g/km CO2, but can also travel on electric-only power for 12.5 miles after being charged. At these times, they’ll produce no tailpipe emissions at all.

To find out the top 10 most popular private hire cars in London, click through our gallery on MSN Cars.