Black Cab finally turns Green

There’s finally updates on the electrification of the iconic London Black Cab, and Automologist MAC gives us the news. 

It seems like a long while ago that we last wrote about the London Taxi becoming a beacon for the sustainability lobby, and an electric alternative was being produced to satisfy those hemp-trouser-wearing politicians in Westminster. In fact, we first started writing about this back in 2014.

Read also: London Black Cab Goes Green

Now, the London Taxi Company, which is based in Coventry but owned by Chinese automotive giant Geely, will launch an electric version of its cab in November, with the hope that it will be able to sell them to pollution-blighted cities around the globe.

Another change is going to be in the name. The “London Taxi Company” was first used back in 1948 but now the company is going to drop the word “Taxi” from the name and become known as the London Electric Vehicle Company, or LEVC for short. Come on, guys, I am sure that your marketing department could have come up with something better than that.

The new vehicle will be able to travel for about 70 miles before the petrol engine cuts in, much in the same way that most Mild Hybrids are configured, and should deliver a 15 to 20% improvement in fuel consumption (but a major reduction in emissions and more, if they use any of the X-1R products).

Chris Gubbey, CEO of LEVC, believes that the company will sell about 150 vehicles in the first few months, and he is expecting politicians to ban the older diesel models pretty soon, although he also believes that the old diesel models will be with us for some time yet. Maybe somebody ought to tell Mr Gubbey about the Transport for London (TfL) rule that mandates that all new cabs need to be capable of performing as zero-emissions vehicles, and be no more than 15 years old from the 1st of January 2018. Obviously this means that LEVC wouldn’t be able to sell their vehicles in London after this date, and also that potentially we will see the last of the diesel cabs retire around the year 2032. And I promise you that if Automology is still going, I will write about it.

Gubbey believes that the new cab will be able to compete well against the Prius-driving Uber competitors. And once TfL and some others build the 150 planned and dedicated taxi charging points by the end of 2018, most of the average 120 miles of driving a day can be covered by electric power only. Costing about GBP50,000, the Black Cab will be up against the Mercedes Benz Vito, which comes in at GBP3000 less, but this of course is a diesel-powered vehicle and will be banned pretty soon.

After investing over GBP325 million in a new plant in Coventry, LEVC is obviously eyeing more than just the London cab market as European legislators become increasingly concerned about diesel emissions. This week, the London EV Company (still having problems with that cringe-worthy name) reported a sale of 225 of the new cabs to RMC, a company that supplies taxis in Amsterdam.

The tide is certainly changing for the manufacturers and operators of traditional combustion-powered taxis, and for the LEVC to be launching ahead of many of their competitors should stand them in good stead for the future, assuming, that is, that the likes of Uber and Lyft and Grab don’t kill the conventional taxi business as they certainly seem poised to do.

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