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Ecodrive, Nissan and Mercedes competing with incumbent Geely for London low-emission taxi market

Ecotive, a division of Frazer-Nash, unveiled its UK-built electric powered Metrocab taxi, in the presence of London's Mayor Boris Johnson on the 19 December.

The Range-Extended Electric (REE) Metrocab from UK-based Ecotive and its technology partner Frazer-Nash Research offers more than 75mpg, home charging via standard mains outlet, significantly reduced costs, enhanced comfort, performance and technology.  

Designed, engineered and built in-house by Ecotive and Frazer-Nash in Mytchett, Surrey, UK, the zero-emissions-capable taxi is set to launch as a trial fleet on the streets of London early in 2014.

The Metrocab is powered by a lithium-ion polymer battery pack with an electric motor to each of the rear wheels.  

Following the trial early next year, the Metrocab will be rolled out in London and to other key cities around the world.

Further details will be announced during the first London fleet trial in early 2014.

Frazer-Nash was formed in the early 20th century, over the past 25 years specialised in electric and hybrid-electric powertrains, and was Official Vehicle Partner with electric vehicles to both the Commonwealth Games and Olympic Games. The company delivers technology to market for its brands including Bristol Cars and Metrocab under the Ecotive brands.

In a speech in February this year, Boris Johnson announced an intention to create an Ultra Low Emission Zone in central London. He asked Transport for London to prepare plans to look at introducing a scheme that would aim to ensure all vehicles driving in the centre of the capital during working hours would be zero or low emission, and the feasibility of introducing such a scheme from 2020.

The Mayor also said his team would explore the potential of taxi designs that offer no emissions at the point of use. Ecotive purpose-built Metrocab taxi for London with zero emission capabilities, was welcomed.

 

Nissan road testing the NV200 Taxi in London

At that time the Metrocab was stated as being unique but Nissan UK has announced its own cab for London and (on 12 November) said it will unveil its NV200 taxi before the end of 2013.

Nissan said that over the last 12 months, the NV200 London Taxi has been undergoing an intensive development, plus Nissan's design centre in Paddington has been applying the finishing touches to an iconic new exterior for the cab.

Based on the NV200 compact van, the taxi version has been designed from the inside out for the well being of passengers, drivers and even other road-users. It complies with all Transport for London (TfL) regulations with a 25ft (7.6m) turning circle and will be more environmentally friendly than current "black cab" models thanks to its Nissan-sourced 1.6-litre gasoline engine.

Nissan also announced that the Glyn Hopkin dealer group has been selected to sell, service and maintain the NV200 London Taxi.

Nissan said it will reveal the final look of the new NV200 London Taxi at an event before the end of the year. Designed to be instantly recognizable as a London taxi, it gets a bespoke "face" with distinctive and modern lighting, plus a new grille and bumper treatment over the regular NV200.

Sales will begin in the second half of 2014 to allow time for thorough testing and evaluation. An all-electric version is under development, which will further reduce emissions of the London taxi fleet.

Taxi versions of the NV200 have already been unveiled in Tokyo, Barcelona and New York.

 

Geely developing engine technologies for its TX4 cab

The recognisably traditional London taxi is made by The London Taxi Company (a wholly owned subsidiary of Geely) that since 1994 has reduced the Diesel Particulates emissions from its vehicles by more than 99% and NOx by more than 80%.

The company is part of the HyTEC Consortium, that has developed and is testing five prototype hydrogen fuel cell-powered London Taxis, test driving around the UK (and specifically London) throughout 2012.

Deputy Mayor Kit Malthouse and London Taxi Company John Russell presented the fleet of five hydrogen fuel cell TX4s at the launch event at London's City Hall in July 2012.

Intelligent Energy led a consortium that developed its Proton Exchange Membrane (PEM) fuel cell electric powertrains into TX4 taxis provided by The London Taxi Company. The hydrogen fuel cell and lithium battery powered electric hybrid produced a 250-mile driving range, while retaining all the passenger and luggage space of a conventional London taxi.

Designed with taxi drivers in mind, the fuel cell electric London taxi was capable of a full day's operation (8 hours) and can be refuelled in less than 5 minutes.

The Technology Strategy Board part funded the project to a tune of over £6m over a period of four years.

Geely has told the Financial Times that it will spend £80m a year from 2014 on developing new engine technologies for its taxis: a low emission oil engine by the end of 2014; a hybrid internal combustion/electric taxi a few years later and an all-electric version by the end of the decade.

 

Mercedes' Vito Taxi also meets Euro 5 emissions standard

The Financial Times, in a feature on London Taxis - London black cabs' race to go eco-friendly, also reports that the Mercedes Vito is making inroads in the London taxi-cab market - that the company claims all four of its CDI diesel engines meet the requirements on the euro 5 emissions standards.

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