London Taxis Get Eco-friendly Update

Excitement builds over lightweight aluminium, electric hybrid vehicles built in UK.
3 April, 2017
The London taxi is an icon, and in many respects it will stay that way as the London Taxi Company launches its new model.
In addition to the new model, the company is also launching its new manufacturing plant in the West Midlands community of Coventry. The London Taxi Company recently opened its £300 million plant, touted as the first automotive manufacturing plant to launch in Britain in over a decade, with some help from Chinese partner Zhejing Geely Holding Group, which rescued London Taxi Company from a fiscal cliff in 2013.

That vision has resulted in the new electric taxi, which will go on sale late this year in London and then reach the global market in 2018. The company plans to scale up to 5,000 vehicles per year in 2019.
All of those taxis will feature aluminium bodies instead of steel. The company says its Coventry facility also will become a research and development center for using aluminium structures and electric vehicle powertrains, which will serve as home base for 200 engineers among the more than 1,000 jobs there.

The changeover will happen quickly, the London Taxi company officials say. The last of its TX4 diesel taxicabs – a line that launched in 1997 – went into a final production run in February 2017. Known as "the black cab," it is familiar to James Bond enthusiasts, Sherlock Holmes fans, and has appeared in an estimate 5,000 or more movies and television shows. It also is a familiar site on the streets of more than 40 countries, but now London Taxi Company plans to build cabs that will help reduce carbon emissions.
The famous taxi will remain familiar though. The Volvo electric engine is supported by a small petrol combustion engine to extend its range, and the commitment to sustainability is reflected in the choice of aluminium materials and electric systems, but the company plans to keep some of the more iconic design features in the TX5. The oversized grille, the wide wheel arches and the vintage shape of the cabin remain the same. The TX5 design work has been overseen by Peter Horbury, who served as head of design for Volvo and worked with Ford North America before serving as design VP for Geely.

On the other hand, the new taxi sports some changes—including a larger passenger compartment. The TX5 will accommodate six passengers instead of four, making them even more ecofriendly, with rear-hinged rear doors and a glass roof. The taxis will be equipped with WiFi to keep passengers connected.
They're also destined for China, where the growing demand for taxis is exceeded only by the imperative to reduce emissions and improve air quality in the transportation sector. Since Geely, as the London Taxi Company parent entity, is a Chinese firm, they're keen to get the black cab on the road in their country. The TX5 also will be built in a Shanghai-area facility that already produces the Chinese version of TX4.

"Our iconic black cabs are famous across the world," said Greg Clark, the UK Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. "The London Taxi Company's impressive new factory and R&D facility showcases the innovation that makes the UK a world leader in the development of new automotive technologies."
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