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120 years later, fully electric black cabs are back in London

Photo Courtesy of Dynamo Motor Co.

The Dynamo, the newest member of the exclusive London Black Cab fleet, has a big job ahead of itself. It has to clean up air quality and keep people moving all at the same time. The Black Cab fleet currently has about 20,000 vehicles, however, many of those are diesel-powered and Mayor Sadiq Khan believes that these diesel cabs are one of the leading contributors to the poor air quality in London.

Based on a Nissan e-NV200 van chassis, the Dynamo can travel 187 miles on a single charge. But they are not cheap, running about 56,000 pounds, however, there is a government-assisted grant of 7,500 pounds to help drivers who change over from the dirty diesel to the electric black cab. Altogether there is 42 million pounds available to aid in the conversion. Additionally, new rules now mandate zero-emission vehicles to be operated in the city center.

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Back in 1899, the first all-electric black cab took to the streets of London, it was called the Bersey, it was competing against horse-drawn taxis and it did not last long. The Bersey only ran from 1897 to 1899. 120 years later all-electric returns to the busy streets of London.

The Dynamo taxi is equipped with Vehicle Dynamic Control that continuously monitors how the cabbie is driving, it will sense under and over-steering, and help compensate by reducing speed or applying braking to a specific wheel, keeping the driver and passengers safe. The power is supplied by an 80-kilowatt motor that propels the cab from zero to 60 in 14 seconds with a maximum speed of 76 mph. It is built for comfort, not speed.

Within London, there are several charging suppliers such as Source London, ESB, Ecotricity, and E-Volt. Any of these will fully charge the Dynamo in 40 to 60 minutes or less depending on your remaining charge left in the batteries. A charging unit that comes with the vehicle can be fitted in a residence or a business. The charger must be installed by a professional, however, there are government grants to help pay for the expense.

Over time, the air quality in central London is expected to improve with the conversion and as the diesel taxis start going out of service.

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