In unveiling the vehicle, London Taxi Company relaunched as London Electric Vehicle Company (LEVC) — a wholly owned subsidiary of Geely. With that rebranding comes ambitious plans to sell its vehicles all over the world.
The TX uses eCity technology to run for about 70 miles on the battery before switching over to a petrol engine, for a range of about 400 miles. LEVC boasts that this could take passengers from London to Edinburgh or Paris without having to stop for fuel, but more realistically this means that taxis will emit fewer emissions while idling in the endless London traffic.
And because this is a story about London black cabs, we’d be completely remiss if we didn’t bring up Uber, their mortal enemy.
The word “Uber” is definitely a dirty word when you’re sat in the back of a London black taxi, and LEVC hopes this cleaner taxi will highlight the “premium” service black taxis provide as they battle the many Toyota Prius’ of Uber.
Other pluses that LEVC points out include charging points for phones and Wi-Fi. A new retractable integrated ramp will make it easier for drivers to load passengers in wheelchairs, and there will be induction loops for hearing aids and contrasting grab handles and seat edges for the partially sighted.
LEVC says we can expect to see the vehicles on London streets later this year, just in time for new Transport for London (TfL) rules stating that all new cabs from Jan. 1, 2018, must be capable of producing zero emissions. Diesel cabs will gradually be phased out. TfL and other groups will gradually build more charging stations dedicated to black cabs.
All these measures are part of Mayor Sadiq Khan’s battle against air pollution. Khan and TfL are also introducing more fully electric bus routes.
While LEVC didn’t announce pricing, London taxis don’t come cheap. Alan Filsell, a cab driver interviewed by the Guardian, said that for the new cab, “They’re talking to us about £50,000,” while the model he was driving cost about £43,000. LEVC claims that the move to electric will save drivers on average £100 a week in fuel.
Greenpeace has welcomed the taxis’ switch to electric, and surely the move will contribute to reducing the high levels of pollution in London.