A NEW ELECTRIC-hybrid taxi has been launched after an extensive Transport for London (TfL) testing and certification process approved the carriage of fare-paying passengers.
The £55,599 TXE is the first vehicle made by the London Electric Vehicle Company (LEVC) after Chinese parent Geely bought the London Taxi Company in 2013.
The firm has invested £325 million in the project and claims the vehicle’s battery is good for 80 miles on zero emissions with another 300 miles available with its 1.3 litre petrol engine kicking-in as a range extender.
The six-seater vehicle also comes with forward-facing wheelchair acess, power sockets for laptops, USB ports, onboard Wifi and a panoramic roof.
LEVC estimate that the average London taxi driver, driving 120 miles a day, could save £100 a week on fuel, compared to the old TX4. That is based on a cabbie charging up his vehicle at the start of the day and running it until there is no battery power left.
LEVC chief executive Chris Gubbey said:
After extensive testing, LEVC’s new taxi is ready to do the job it was made for; transporting people around this great city of London safely, cleanly and stylishly. Better for passengers and more cost effective for drivers, it will play a major role in helping to improve air quality, benefiting all Londoners. I am immensely proud of the work we have carried out so far. We have really produced a new icon, the world’s most advanced electric taxi.
Taxi drivers who order the TXE are expected to take the vehicle on a five year lease for around £177 a week, which includes the cost of the battery.
Shirley Rodrigues, TfL’s deputy mayor for environment and energy, said: ”These new electric taxis are at the forefront of green transport technology and will play a transformational role in the mayor’s plan to phase out diesel and clean up the capital’s transport network. This will also help to accelerate improvements to London’s toxic air.”
WHAT DO CABBIES THINK OF THE NEW TX E-CITY? – ‘Matt’, commenting on a motor magazine internet noticeboard, added: “As a London cab driver, I can tell you I am not looking forward to being forced into debt to the tune of 50 grand.
“While at the same time I’m being undermined by an American free-for-all company that is being allowed to illegally operate in London by a regulator that is too scared to regulate for fear of being dragged into court. Fifty per cent sales by 2020? Not happening!”
We have spoken to many drivers about the launch of the electric TX taxi and so far we haven’t come across one that has said they will definitely be buying one.
First, the price is an enormous obstacle, with the trade in its present state. And although we have been promised subsidies, everyone knows this is a temporary measure and that the subsidies are finite.
“Many, like myself, are also worried about the possible health issue of sitting so close to large bank of batteries emitting an electro magnetic field. It also doesn’t help that absolutely nothing to put our minds at rest has come out from a reliable source, plus, the manufacturer has stayed strangely silent on this issue!”
NOT ENOUGH CHARGE POINTS FOR ELECTRIC CABS? – A survey carried out by Addison Lee has shown that London has too few rapid charge points – able to recharge a vehicle in 20-to-40 minutes – for electric vehicles to justify switching their 4,200 fleet at the moment.
The research, by economist Rebecca Driver, found that the capital’s 75 rapid charge points were not enough to support the mass adoption of electric vehicles by the cab trade and that at least 2,135 points would be needed to allow 25 per cent of the capital’s taxi and private hire fleet to switch to an electric vehicle. A spokesman for Transport for London said 300 rapid chargers would be enough to cope with all new taxis switching to electric power.