Nicko Williamson founded Climatecars to be an eco-friendly cab service which would cater for anyone in London. Last month he was named Young Entrepreneur of the Year at the Fast Growth Business Awards. We ask what the future holds for this exciting company.
For those who don’t know much about Climatecars, what are the basic benefits of your service over that of the traditional black taxis or minicabs?
Climatecars is an eco-friendly car service. We are an alternative to black taxis or minicabs offering a 24-hour green car service, covering the whole of Greater London and all the airports. Our fleet is made up entirely of environmentally-friendly hybrid cars, which run on a combination of petrol and electricity, resulting in significantly reduced emissions.
Our hybrid cars all feature leather seats, air conditioning, complimentary Belu water and magazines. Climatecars rates are very competitive, and payment can be made on account or by cash, credit or debit card.
Does this mean that you are more expensive to use?
Absolutely not, we do not charge a premium for our service. Our fares are fixed so with Climatecars you won’t pay to sit in traffic, giving you complete transparency for the cost of your trip.
We offer competitive rates for all journeys no matter how small or large. Our airport rates are particularly competitive and getting a quote is easy by calling 020 7350 5960 or using our online booking system.
Are Climatecars more profitable than traditional, purely petrol and diesel based, taxi companies?
We use less petrol than a normal diesel or petrol taxi or minicab, which is beneficial and we also pay zero road tax. The main cost for a taxi or minicab is the cost of the driver so us choosing eco-friendly vehicles helps us but does not contribute much to profits.
What vehicle can a client expect to picked up in and why was this vehicle chosen over others?
Our fleet is currently made up entirely of one of the most advanced environmentally friendly cars on the road – the hybrid Toyota Prius
Spacious, comfortable and peaceful, by using the Prius we offer an eco-friendly alternative to black cabs or London minicabs.
Can people expect your current fleet to contain electric vehicles (EVs) in the future?
Yes, we have plans to add pure EV's in 2012, I can't say more now but watch this space.
What do you see as the current problems with charging points in London, and how do you think that this needs to change?
There are simply not enough of them yet. I see the whole model as great for getting people using EV's but flawed. At the moment you can charge for free with some boroughs and Source London. This means that if you buy a leaf, for instance, you can drive from your home and into your office in central London, park for free, pay no congestion charge and charge for free.
This is great for the people that are doing this but long-term there will have to be a charge involved. The biggest problem we will face in our adoption of EV's is finding useable charge points. If everybody can park and charge free then there are never going to be enough points for us which makes operating a commercial fleet of EV's challenging!
More broadly, how easy have you found it to use hybrid vehicles in a commercial setting?
Very. The Prius is a cracking car, very reliable, comfortable, quiet and safe. We have had 3 AA /RAC call outs I think in the history of the company (we have been going for over 4 years).
Have you considered expanding the business to other parts of the UK? If so, what’s going to need to change in order for you to make the leap?
Not yet, as we still need to grow further in the London market. We will look to expand outside London, but need to become a bigger player in London first.
In the past you have made it clear that you have grand ambitions for the company. In a few years time can we expect to see a whole range of ‘green’ transport services on offer from you?
I do indeed have grand ambitions for the company. We want to grow significantly and increase our range of products and services. In a few years time I would hope you'll see Climatecars offering some other transport services too, again watch this space as we are not planning on sitting back!
Turnover: £2.2m last year, £3m+ this year