Skip to main content

How the London Taxi Company is bringing the black cab into the 21st century

London Taxi Company TX5
Image used with permission by copyright holder
Once a common sight in the British capital, the emblematic Hackney carriage — colloquially known as the black cab — has seen its market share erode significantly over the past decade. The London Taxi Company (LTC) is preparing to introduce a brand-new model in a bid to reclaim its spot as the poster child of England’s taxi industry.

LTC is owned by Geely, a large, China-based auto-maker whose portfolio of brands also includes Sweden’s Volvo. Geely invested over 275 million pounds (roughly $347 million) to develop a state-of-the-art cab dubbed TX5 capable of fending off competition from much more modern passenger van built by the likes of Mercedes-Benz and Nissan.

The TX5 was designed from a blank sheet of paper. A gasoline-electric plug-in hybrid drivetrain represents one of the most noteworthy advancements over the outgoing TX4. Power is primarily provided by a three-cylinder engine, but the cab is capable of driving solely on electricity for over 70 miles. Hybrid technology will become mandatory for all taxi cabs operating in London starting next year, so the TX5 is ahead of the curve.

Penned in Barcelona by British designers, the TX5 borrows key styling cues such as a tall grille, round headlights, and a pronounced belt line from the Austin FX4 cab launched in 1958. The retro treatment is only skin-deep, however. The cab boasts composite body panels, as well as a modular aluminum platform that keeps weight in check. LTC believes the TX5 can earn a five-star crash test rating.

The TX5 will offer space for a driver, up to six passengers — one more than the current model — and a few suitcases. Accessed via suicide doors, the passenger compartment will be equipped with an in-car Wi-Fi connection, charging ports for mobile devices, and a tourist-friendly panoramic sunroof.

TX5s will roll out of a brand new factory that’s currently being built in England. The plant will initially have an annual capacity of 36,000 cars, a figure that far exceeds demand from taxi drivers in London. LTC wants to sell the TX5 around the globe, and officials predict the modular platform will ultimately underpin about seven models. One of them will be a commercial vehicle, LTC boss Chris Gubbey told British magazine Auto Express.

Don’t expect to get picked up by a TX5 if you fly into the Heathrow Airport in the coming months. The cab’s design has been finalized and engineers are fine-tuning the final prototypes, but production hasn’t started yet and the TX5 isn’t scheduled to hit the market late this year at the very earliest.

Updated on 02-01-2017 by Ronan Glon: Added up-to-date technical specifications, information about TX5 variants.

Editors' Recommendations

Ronan Glon
Ronan Glon is an American automotive and tech journalist based in southern France. As a long-time contributor to Digital…
Fake engine noises in electric cars need to die
Ford Mustang Mach-E Rally driving on a dirt road.

You finally get that notification that the electric car you ordered months ago is ready for pickup. You get to the location, sit in the car and turn it on. Pulling out into the road, you hear something -- a strange noise you didn't quite expect. You expected the sweet quietness of a full electric vehicle. But is that ... engine noise?

It is and it isn't. As humans, we've been so used to the sound of an engine for so long that carmakers think we've associated that low-frequency rumble with performance and quality. So, what are they doing? That's right -- they're pumping fake engine noises through the speakers in your electric car.

Read more
Watch this famous musician fly in a car with wings
watch this famous musician fly in a car with wings aircar

Jean-Michel Jarre is world’s first passenger to take off in KleinVision’s flying AirCar

The legendary French synth musician Jean-Michel Jarre has become the first passenger to take to the skies in Klein Vision’s incredible flying car.

Read more
The Tesla Model Y is at its lowest price yet — but should you buy one?
Tesla Model Y

Despite increased competition in the space, the Tesla Model Y is still one of the best EVs out there. It has access to the best charging network, plus it offers among the best software experiences, as well as a solid range, especially in the longer-range models. And the Model Y is now down to its lowest price yet, meaning that if you were considering getting one, now is probably the time to buy.

The base price of the Tesla Model Y is down to $42,990 at the time of this writing, which represents a pretty huge price cut. That's before any tax incentives too -- and considering the car is eligible for the full $7,500 tax credit, that means you could get it for as low as $35,490.

Read more