The future is electric for taxi driver Reg

Reggie Chapman of Call a Cabbie with his new fully electric Nissan Leaf taxi. INPT34-215.
Reggie Chapman of Call a Cabbie with his new fully electric Nissan Leaf taxi. INPT34-215.

A taxi driver is leading the way in green motoring, having bought an electric car - the first of Portadown’s cab firms to do so.

Reg Chapman took possession of the 2012 Nissan Leaf last month and in just one week’s motoring reckons he has saved between £120-£150.

His purchase has generated a lot of interest among the other drivers at Grab-a-Cabbie in West Street, and it’s also proving a talking point for customers as well.

Said Reg, “A couple of people have noticed straight away how quiet and smooth it is and asked me if it was an electric car.”

Reg, who knows of just four other people in Portadown with an electric car, gave the matter a lot of thought before switching from his diesel Jaguar.

He said, “The car was the same price as a conventional car, but it costs me nothing in fuel as I use the public chargers. I am saving about £30 a day in diesel which amounts to about £8,000 a year.

“As well as that, there is no road tax, no engine to service and the insurance is cheaper as well.”

Reg, who lives in Scotch Street, is also aware of the added advantage of zero emissions. He added, “I have a grandson and I want a good life for him in a clean world.”

The only disadvantage - and it’s one that is the main stumbling point for some of Reg’s co-drivers in making the switch to electric - is the lack of a rapid charger in the town.

At present, Reg uses one of the standard chargers located at car parks in Fairgreen, Magowan Buildings, Asda and Brownlow Hub, by simply plugging a lead into the bonnet.

He explained, “To go from empty to full charge takes about five-and-a-half hours, which usually gives me about 130 miles, a day’s work.

“But with a rapid charger, you can go from empty to 80 per cent in 20-30 minutes. There are rapid chargers in Banbridge, Sprucefield and Belfast so why none in Portadown?

“If the government is really serious about getting people to use this technology, they need to be pro-active.”

His colleague, Michael Morgan, agrees. “I would definitely consider an electric car if there was a rapid charger in the town. They have one in Banbridge but there is a bigger volume of traffic here in Portadown.”

Reg, meanwhile, is really enjoying driving the car, which he bought from Shelbourne Motors. He said, “It has the power equivalent of a 1400cc engine, a rear camera, Bluetooth and sat nav. It’s like having a new toy!”

A spokesperson for ESB ecars said there are currently no plans to install a rapid charge point in Portadown.