Black cab turns green as all-new electric London taxi launches.

Cab maker ditches diesel to produce a petrol and electric-powered taxi that will be rolled out in November

<!–[if IE 9]><![endif]–>the new electric London black cab

Behold, the long-awaited new electric London black cab. The model will set cabbies back around £50,000.
Photograph: LVEC

Black cab turns green as all-new electric London taxi launches

Cab maker ditches diesel to produce a petrol and electric-powered taxi that will be rolled out in November

The maker of the London black cab has unveiled the new, electric design of the car, which will hit the capital’s roads in November and which it hopes to sell to pollution-blighted cities worldwide.

Known as the London Taxi Company since 1948, the firm will rebrand as the London Electric Vehicle Company (LEVC) to export the new model, which runs for about 70 miles off a battery before switching to a petrol engine for up to 400 miles.

Chris Gubbey, the chief executive of the firm, which was bought by Chinese automotive giant Geely in 2013, said he expected older diesel models would soon face a ban from politicians and regulators concerned about air quality.

“They [diesel cabs] will disappear, this is the way forward. [But] that won’t be as immediate as people think,” he said.

Gubbey hopes to have up to 150 of the TX cabs on the capital’s streets by the year’s end, after the first deliveries begin in November.

Under Transport for London (TfL) rules, all new black cabs from 1 January 2018 will need to be electric, or capable of producing zero emissions. Combined with an age limit for the cabs of 15 years, that means the last diesel ones should disappear from London by 2032.

<!–[if IE 9]><![endif]–>London electric black cab

London electric black cab Photograph: Handout

LEVC thinks that the new cab will be able to compete in a world of Prius-owning Uber drivers, arguing that it offers customers a premium service.

“There’s always been a place for private hire and a premium product. [But] you can’t rest on your laurels and say I’m ringfenced,” he said, adding that the company had not done a good enough job in the past of explaining why its cabs were functionally better.

LEVC said the private hire vehicle finance for the model would be higher than previous versions but this would be offset by lower running costs, including a claimed £100 less on weekly fuel costs. It said the cars would also need less maintenance.

Alan Filsell, a 61-year-old black cab driver dropping off a fare in central London, liked the new design but was unconvinced about its cost.

While the company would not disclose the pricing for the TX, Filsell said: “They’re talking to us about £50,000 [for the new car]. These are about £43,000,” he said of the TX4 he was driving. “It’s bigger than a mortgage. They [other cab drivers] reckon if the batteries go wrong, it’ll cost £8,000. I do like the look of it, don’t get me wrong.”

Filsell also questioned where the new electric model would be charged up, and said a fare to Heathrow and the drive back would wipe out most of the battery’s range.

<!–[if IE 9]><![endif]–>The cabbie’s command console

The cabbie’s seat. Photograph: LVEC

There should be 80 charging points dedicated to black cab drivers by the start of next year, built by T fL and other groups. The number is expected to rise to 150 by the end of 2018, and to 300 by 2020.

The average driver of a black cab covers 120 miles in a day, so most of the time the car would be running without emissions, off the battery. The electric motor will also, eventually, mean an end to lines of idling black cabs belching out toxic fumes at train stations.

The final design, unveiled in London, was inspired by the FX4 black cabs built until 1984 – the one usually reproduced as toys and souvenirs. Described as “contemporary” but “timeless”, the curves of the final car were settled on after the designers rejected initial, boxier concepts as well as wackier, futuristic designs.

[embedded content]
David Ancona, managing director of Geely Design, talks about the new electric black cab, the TX

In London, the car will have to compete against Mercedes Benz’s £47,000 London Vito Taxi, an alternative to the traditional black cab that went on sale in January. Although not an electric vehicle like the TX, the diesel car is marketed to cabbies as a fuel efficient option.

LEVC is also eyeing an international market for the cabs, made at its £325m factory in Coventry, as cities across Europe and beyond impose stricter vehicle standards to cut air pollution. On Tuesday, the firm announced it had already received an order for 225 of the cars from the Amsterdam taxi operator, RMC.

Anna Jones, a clean air campaigner at Greenpeace, said: “The UK should be proud of having produced the London EV Company, and its progressive attitude towards cleaning our air and reducing emissions.

“The tide is turning on diesel, and now is the time for the car industry as a whole to fully embrace new electric technology in order to stay relevant and competitive.”