London’s classic black taxicabs are slowly but surely going electric. The new Range Extended Electric Metrocab, a plug-in hybrid taxi designed and built in the UK by Ecotive, a subsidiary of electric powertrain developer Frazer-Nash, will begin real-world trials in the British capital this month.
London’s famous black taxis must conform to a host of regulations specified by the London Public Carriage Office – among other requirements, they must be wheelchair-accessible and must have a turning radius of 25 feet. For decades, diesel-powered cabs made by the London Taxi Company have had a lock on the British taxi industry.
However, change is afoot in Blighty. Mayor Boris Johnson’s plan to create an “ultra-low-emissions zone” in London includes the introduction of hybrid and pure electric buses, and the installation of over 1,400 public charge points. Hizzoner took a test ride in the new white Metrocab last week.
The hi-tech hackney features two electric motors, a one-litre petrol engine, a 12.2 kWh lithium-ion battery pack and a 3 kW onboard charger. According to the company, it has average fuel economy of 75 mpg (three times that of the legacy London taxi), and an all-electric range of “well over 50 miles.” CO2 emissions of less than 50 g/km are 75% less than those of old blackie. Ecotive estimates that the Metrocab’s lower running costs will save the typical London cabbie 30-40 quid per day.
“The all-new Range Extended Electric Metrocab has been in development since the mid-2000s with several prototypes built and over a million kilometres of engineering tests completed,” said Metrocab Chairman Sir Charles Masefield. “Instantly recognisable as an iconic London Hackney Cab, with a panoramic glass roof for views of the city, our new all-British London cab offers, for no price premium, completely new levels of economy, emissions and passenger comfort and is ready to enter service this year, benefitting the passenger, driver, city and environment alike.”
Following the market trials this year, the Metrocab will be rolled out in London and other cities in the UK and internationally.