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With bans on the sale of fuel-powered vehicles in the near future, the transportation landscape is on the precipice of a major, electric overhaul…and that includes the iconic London Black Cab.
Manufactured by Dynamo Motor Company, The Dynamo Taxi is the world’s only 100% electric zero emissions London black cab*. Since launch in 2018, Dynamo has already supplied over 100 drivers with electric taxis, and is well positioned to guide the taxi business through the next chapter of electric innovation.
We sat down with founder and CEO Brendan O’Toole to find out more.
What were you doing prior to founding Dynamo Taxi, and how did you first come up with the idea?
I worked previously as a coachbuilder, and predominantly worked on classic race cars. I had a feeling that legislation would change sooner than most people thought, in regard to taxis. In the UK there are nearly 70,000 taxis of which about 4,000 have already converted to electric. So in the spirit of getting ahead of the curve, I started Dynamo Taxi to compete for the other 66,000.
Over the next 10 years or so, we’ll be working with large manufacturers and selecting the best donor vehicles for conversion to taxis, offering both choice of vehicle and several price bands.
The Black Cab is an iconic part of UK culture, how are you going about navigating its transition to electric?
The black cab indeed has great cultural value, but it’s really the drivers that make this so. As long as the drivers are prepared to buy electric vehicles – and they will, as they’re far more cost-effective to buy and run – that won’t change any time soon. Plus in the process, we’ll be working with taxi drivers to help tackle the climate crisis, improve air quality in the city and create a greener economy – hopefully all of this will also become what London is known for.
Is there anyone else in the market trying to do this?
We really have a first-mover advantage in this market. The closest competitor would be LEVC, which launched a petrol range-extended taxi. When it comes to fully electric, certified black cabs, Dynamo Taxi is the only player in the market. And we’re not stopping there! Our next product will be a fully electric increased capacity last mile delivery van conversion, in collaboration with another major manufacturer. Stay tuned, we’ll be bringing this vehicle into production in Q3 of 2021.
Why is now the perfect time to scale this business?
Legislation passed in 2018 enforcing our biggest market, London, to license Zero Emission Capable taxis only. We saw that coming, and we’re seeing legislation like these move into adoption around the UK. So, as we head toward a carbon neutral position in the not too distant future, we expect the taxi industry to be leading the charge. It will likely act as a form of pathfinder to more widespread EV adoption throughout the country.
What has your growth looked like to date?
Like many businesses, the after-effects of the Covid crisis and subsequent restrictions were frustrating. Now, with light at the end of the tunnel, we’re looking forward to the world reopening, as the taxi sector will reopen with it. We’ve sold 170 taxis to date, and at this rate, by 2023 we should realistically have sold 10 times that. We’re preparing for a steep growth curve.
What exciting developments do you have in your pipeline?
In 2017, we attained International converter status within Nissan Motors, allowing us to officially modify and sell Nissan products. Now, we’re in the process of developing the next generation Renault / Nissan electric taxi and have other plans for new electric vehicles which we intend to roll out in the near future. Each of these innovations will position Dynamo in multiple market sectors and unlock several new revenue streams for the business.
What will the proceeds from this round help you accomplish?
We’ll be prepping to ramp up growth, to develop the next generation electric taxi. We’ll be focusing on driving sales and distribution for our current electric taxi, while undergoing the R&D for our larger capacity electric van. We’ll also be looking to improve accessibility for all of the products, by enabling wheelchair access on customer vehicles via conversion.
Why did you choose crowdfunding?
We wanted to give as many people as possible , including the taxi trade, the opportunity to invest in our business. We wanted to be able to truly integrate with the general public, giving investors the opportunity for potential returns, and to play a part in developing the solution for pollution.
How do you think we can smooth the transition to net zero transportation?
Government grants will always be important, as will increasing charging infrastructure and making it more widespread. Manufacturers will need to increase battery range and make other forms of electric transport accessible and flexible to use. One way of doing this for example would be a unified transport ticket that works across all modes of transport.
What’s the most important learning you’ve taken away from starting a business?
You need to build something that people want and can afford. Surround yourself with experienced people who believe in you and what you are doing and be resilient! When bringing in partners and shareholders of significant equity, you’ll want to make sure they’re not just bringing capital to the table, but also experience and expertise in the field. This is what we’ve done with Gluon, and that has paid off enormously.
What’s the most important thing about this opportunity you’d tell to your prospective investors?
We all need to strive to make a difference in the fight against pollution, and our investors are doing just that.
To find out more about Dynamo Taxi and for the opportunity to invest, visit the pitch now.
*According to GOV.UK research.