THE CAPITAL’S hackney trade has given a mostly positive reaction to the London Electric Vehicle Company’s (LEVC) hybrid TX E-City vehicle after Transport for London (TfL) granted the first licences for the new zero emission cab.
Forty six year old taxi driver and Chingford resident David Harris, who has worked as a London cabbie for 21 years, took delivery of his new cab and said: “It’s great that it is emissions free and it drives even better than my wife’s Mercedes. It rides over bumps and ramps much better than the old model and it’s far more roomy and comfortable for passengers as well as for the driver.”
The important thing is it will save me about £600 a month in reduced fuel and servicing costs. It will help me move back to what I felt I should have been earning.
Fellow cabbie John Dowd has been roadtesting the TX E-City for LEVC since September last year and was also enthusiastic. He said: “You don’t have the drone of an engine all day long. It’s much less stressful to drive, a much nicer vehicle and green. It’s a different ride altogether.”
The TX E-City, made by the London Electric Vehicle Company (LEVC) under licence from its Chinese parent company Geely, costs £55,599, around £177 a week over five years and has a range of 80 miles on electricity alone. The batteries can be topped up by its on-board 1.5 litre three-cylinder petrol powered generator, with a maximum range of about 400 miles.
The TX E-City has seating for six passengers, plug-in points to charge mobile phones and laptops, a panoramic roof and is, according to Geely, the “Most advanced taxi ever”.
PROBLEMS? – But, despite the much-publicised launch, the TX E-City has had more than its fair share of teething problems. Not least a technical issue with its taximeter. Taxi bloggers on black cab internet blogs have been less than kind and a spokesman for LEVC said: “The signal from the vehicles and the meters was not lining up and we worked on a solution to fix that issue and get an appropriate converter to get the vehicles licensed by Transport for London and over to customers.”
Take-up of the E-City hackney carriage model has also been slow. Steve McNamara, general secretary of the Licensed Taxi Drivers’ Association, said:
The TX is a fantastic vehicle, it is state of the art. But at the moment, drivers are very hesitant. We’ve got to pay £12k more for a vehicle that we don’t know the reliability or durability of, at a time when the market is being squeezed by Uber.
“The lack of charging infrastructure is also a concern. There are still nowhere near the number of rapid charge points that we need in Central London.”
At present, there are only 90 rapid charge points in the capital, the majority of which are in the outer London zones. There is also the issue of a luxury car tax, brought in by the government in 2017, which means cabbies will have to pay a £310 increase in vehicle excise duty until April 2019 when an exemption kicks in.