The hybrid-powered Metrocab will begin real-world testing in London, after being cleared to carry fare-paying passengers by Transport for London.
Designed and built by Frazer-Nash Automotive and Ecotive, the Metrocab is the first Hackney carriage capable of running completely emissions-free.
Like the Chevrolet Volt, BMW i3 and the Boris Bus, electric motors drive the wheels directly. A 1.0-litre, three-cylinder petrol engine turning a generator recharges the lithium ion batteries on the move, or it can be plugged into a suitable socket.
The motors produce 50KW of power and over 1,000lb/ft of torque, so acceleration should be brisk, despite weight of 2.5 tons. Top speed is limited to 80mph.
More importantly, fuel consumption of 98mpg is claimed, around three times better than the typical diesel-powered black cab, saving an estimated £20-£40 a day in fuel. Co2 emissions are less than 50g/km and, crucially, particulate emissions are all but eliminated.
London is currently well over air quality standards laid down by the EU, particulate and nitrogen oxide emissions produced by diesel engines being a particular problem. Earlier this week, Paris announced plans to ban older, dirtier vehicles from the city centre in an effort to improve air quality and London will no doubt follow suit soon.
The city’s black cab fleet is estimated to be responsible for around a quarter of particulate emissions, so it will have to be at the forefront of any change. The Metrocab is the first step in the process. Nissan is currently developing an all-electric cab based on the e-NV200 van as well, and we wouldn’t be surprised if Mercedes is planning an electric/hybrid follow-up to it’s purpose-built, black cab-spec Vito. Whether or not cash-strapped LTI, maker of the iconic TX, will able to adapt remains to be seen.
The Metrocab also aims to be the most luxurious cab in London. It’s a generous size, seats seven with full disabled access and has a decent boot. Plus its got air suspension, USB charging socket and a panoramic roof.
Preston Morris, the first Metrocab cabbie, said: “The cash savings on fuel are significant, the ride and comfort outstanding, and my fist customers are thrilled with the new cab.” London Mayor, Boris Johnson, caleed it “superb and absolutely beautiful. A masterpiece of British engineering. The Rolls-Royce of taxis that can do 100mpg.”