Clean air fare…taxis go electric

Electric black cab

THE silent black taxi.

That sounds like a horror movie title.

But the streets of London might sound very different – and a lot quieter – over the next decade.

That’s because the iconic black cab has gone electric. The first sight of it in action was at the Goodwood Festival of Speed on the infamous hill climb.

But now this silent cab is ready for trial on the streets of the capital.

The British-built plug-in hybrid TX model promises weekly savings for cabbies of £100 a week – equal to £25,000 over five years.

It will be manufactured by the Chinese-owned LEVC – changed from the London Taxi Company to reflect its green credentials – and will be built at the factory in Coventry.

The site has the capacity to build up to 20,000 vehicles a year and already 225 models have been ordered and are headed for the Netherlands.

The main order book for the new electric TX opens on August 1 for UK and foreign taxi drivers who have registered an interest.

Electric black cab
Electric black cab

New TX cabs built here will be offered worldwide next year in order to ramp up production to a profitable point.

And the first road-going versions are expected to be trialled in London in October.

LEVC’s target is to convert around 50 per cent of London’s black cab fleet to TX models by 2020 – around 12,000 in total.

And while no price for the new cab has been announced, potential customers will be offered a “highly competitive” weekly payment plan based on their usage and needs.

From January 2018, all new cabs in London must be zero-emissions.

And despite having to shell out on a new taxi to meet these pollution targets, cabbies could be in the money.

LEVC estimates the average driver covering 120 miles in a day could save around £100 a week on fuel.

That’s based on charging at the start of the day and running it flat.

It will be able to run more than 70 miles on electric only with a range extender backup petrol engine on board to ease range anxiety.

Savings will be boosted further with 300 fast chargers – allowing up to 80 per cent charge in 30 minutes – due to be installed in London by the end of 2018.

The new TX has recently been testing in extreme weather conditions in Arizona, running for 300 miles a day.

That’s equal to driving from central London to Heathrow Airport 20 times, and around three times as many miles as the average London cabbie racks up.

The new TX5 has six seats instead of the five at present –three fixed and three drop-down.

There’s wi-fi and charging points, and better ramp facilities for disabled passengers.

Chris Gubbey, CEO, LEVC said: “Today is an incredibly exciting day for the company, for the world’s cities, for the air we breathe and for the drivers of commercial vehicles.

“Drawing on the best of British design and engineering as well as technical expertise from our sister company Volvo, our products will help transform city living and provide taxi drivers with an average weekly fuel saving of £100 compared with our outgoing diesel model.”

Phil Lanning

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