Top five vehicles used as private hire taxis

Suzuki Swace

As we continue the drive towards cutting pollution, a vehicle’s green credentials are top of the list for taxi drivers when it’s time to change their cabs.

While their new vehicle has to be suited to private-hire taxi work, its emissions are now just as important to drivers as the amount of room for passengers and luggage.

So, when it comes to choosing their new vehicle and whether it has built-in sat-nav, parking sensors and air conditioning, the key question is: will it be exempt from congestion and pollution charges?

Moving away from diesel

Until recently, a reliable diesel family-size saloon or people carrier would be the main choice for private hire taxi drivers buying a new vehicle.

And while diesels have always been the go-to car vehicle for taxi drivers, so too have hybrids, with Toyota’s Prius proving reliable and popular among PHV drivers for almost a quarter of a century. It was the first mass-produced hybrid and was reliable and economical, especially for private hire taxi work in and around towns and cities.

While the main environmental drive is for all cars in the UK top be pure EVs, as we have said before, there is a lot of work that needs to be done to make sure the charging infrastructure is in place and the range of EVs is improved before that can happen.

The popularity of self-charging hybrids

And unless taxi drivers can charge their PHVs at home, self-charging hybrids are the way to go.

So it is no surprise that they remain popular today with taxi drivers because they are not only efficient and economical, they also meet the standards to be exempt from Clean Air Zone and Ultra-Low Emissions Zone charges.

While newer petrol and diesel vehicles also meet these standards, they will be phased out. Bath, Birmingham, Bradford, Bristol, Portsmouth, Sheffield, Tyneside (Newcastle and Gateshead) already have clean air zones in place and Greater Manchester’s planned CAZ is under review.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan recently sparked controversy by expanding the ULEZ to include all London boroughs and the City of London.

But as the drive to cut pollution continues, other cities are expected to introduce their own schemes in the near future and the only way to avoid the charges is to operate a compliant vehicle. And petrol and diesel vehicles that are currently compliant are likely to be the first to be charged in future.

Patons’ top five private hire vehicles

The first hybrid that is already proving popular with private hire drivers is the Suzuki Swace. As we mentioned previously, the stylish new version retains many of the similarities and features of the Toyota Corolla estate it was created in collaboration with. But, unlike its close relative, it is available now without long waiting lists with prices starting at £21,412+VAT – almost £6,000 than less than the new Corolla Touring estate.

Another brand that remains popular with private hire drivers is Hyundai, with its Kona 1.6 petrol hybrid which is full of safety and convenience features including parking sensors and lane assist and collision avoidance assistance. There is plenty of room for passengers and luggage and prices start from £27,995.

While the Suzuki Swace cannot escape its genetic ties with the Toyota Corolla, the latter has also recently undergone a facelift of its own. The hybrid estate has been popular with PHV drivers for several years because it is efficient, economical to run, and has plenty of space for passengers and luggage. And it boasts quality and reliability Toyota has become known for.

Kia is also continuing to produce vehicles that are stylish and reliable and the Niro is no exception. It has plenty of room for passengers and luggage and the petrol hybrid boasts 62.5 mpg. Prices start at £26,995.

And having attracted taxi drivers’ attention with a range of vehicles from the i20 and i30 to the popular IONIQ SE Connect, Hyundai’s Tucson SE Connect 1.6 Hybrid is also ticking all the boxes for drivers looking for SUV-style cars for private hire work.  Prices, including VAT, start from £29,495.

Clean-air zones continue to cause controversy, but the easiest way private hire taxi drivers can avoid the charges is to switch to a compliant vehicle, such as an EV or hybrid.

Whatever vehicle you choose for your next private hire taxi, finance packages are available to help drivers choose the car they want and manage their budgets.

Visit or call 0300 303 2095 to find out more.

All information is correct at time of publication. Information provided within this article may have changed over time. No responsibility for its accuracy or correctness is assumed by John Patons Insurance Services or any of its employees.