Johnson and Transport for London have decreed that all new taxis presented for licensing in the capital must be zero emission capable from 1 January 2018.
Frazer-Nash, LTC, and Karsan – which has collaborated with the Royal College of Art and Helen Hamlyn Centre – join Nissan and Mercedes in the race to get their cabs on to London’s streets in four years.
While the Mayor and TfL are keen to create an Ultra Low Emission Zone and a new generation of greener taxis, other benefits will include a new competitive market for taxi drivers to buy their cabs from – there are only two designs currently on the market – and the introduction of design-led solutions to accessibility, driver and passenger comfort and, the safety of other road users.
The Concept V1 by Turkish manufacturer Karsan has been developed in collaboration with engineering company Hexagon Studio and the RCA and HHC.
Karsan was shortlisted for a design of the 2011 New York Taxi of Tomorrow competition.
The RCA, and HHC have helped the company revise this design for London, according to Professor Dale Harrow, the RCA’s head of programme in vehicle design who says, ‘In New York drivers tend to drop passengers on both sides of the street, but in London it’s always on the left-hand side, so we could have a big door on the passenger side.’
This door is illuminated, for those with reduced vision, and is indicated by a rear window ‘getting out’ message for the benefit of cyclists, pedestrians and other vehicles.
Wide dual doors open at 90 degrees, an automated wheelchair ramp can be deployed and wheelchairs can be accommodated so that they face other passengers.
A driver’s cab has done away with the unused adjacent passenger seat which has been integrated into a work station of ‘state of the art gadgets’ and storage.
As many London taxi drivers are over 65 a coach type self-suspended fully adjustable driver seat is offered as standard.
The Karsan vehicle is fitted with an electric power pack and a range extender for zero emission town journeys.
Critics of electric vehicles have long opined that plugging into a grid, which is most probably sourcing its power from a fossil fuel burning power station, negates any green credentials, even if the vehicles are not emitting anything. There’s that and the CO2 footprint of making Lithium batteries in the first place.
Some of the innovation on display had direct answers to these problems. The Metro Cab design by Frazer Nash is the result of a testing programme which has seen over a million kilometers covered since the mind 2000s.
One idea is for these vehicles to dock in a solar charging station which could not just power the taxi but feed into the National Grid.
It can take seven passengers, claims to save the average London cabbie £30-£40 a day, and, like the Karsan design it has a panoramic roof.
The London Taxi Company traces its roots back to 1919 and is responsible for the TX series, including the commonly recognisable TX4 shape which is on the road today.
Interestingly the taxi it had on display outside the Mayor’s office was not the design is has put forward – instead it was a hydrogen fuel cell and lithium battery powered electric hybrid providing a 250-mile driving range.
A spokeswoman for The London Taxi Company says the taxi it will have ready for 2018 will be a hybrid electric ‘partly because there are only two or three hydrogen fuel stations in London at the moment.’
Last week Nissan put its hat into the ring early with this design based on its NV200 multi purpose vehicle. This will launch in December, with an electric vehicle following in 2015.
Mercedes, which has a black cab currently on the market based on its Vito vehicle is also in the race but did not reveal any designs today.