London’s iconic black cab hits the road with a high-tech makeover

London’s TX electric taxi, a modern version of the city’s iconic black cab, is now taking paying passengers.

We reported last week how the launch of the high-tech cab had been delayed due to technical issues, but on Monday, January 22, cabbie David Harris set off on his first run in the new zero-emission-capable car.

Harris, who’s been driving a black cab around London for more than 20 years, said he was “delighted” to finally get the keys to his electric taxi.

Built by the London Electric Vehicle Company (LEVC), the new taxi has a pure-electric driving range of 80 miles, though this extends to 400 miles with its small petrol-powered back-up generator. The system can save taxi drivers more than 100 British pounds ($138) a week compared to current diesel taxis, LEVC said.

Inside the vehicle, riders will find seating for six people and modern features such as Wi-Fi, charging ports for mobile devices, and power sockets for laptops.

The advanced cab even keeps the environment inside the vehicle clean using a multi-filter system that removes gases and particles from incoming air. Further measures to block London’s often dirty air from entering the taxi include an air-quality sensor that closes the external air intake if it detects increased levels of pollution outside.

The car also incorporates active and passive safety systems such as forward collision warnings, autonomous emergency braking, and emergency brake assistance.

Harris said he’s looking forward to seeing “significant savings on running the electric taxi,” adding, “Even though I can’t charge the vehicle at home, I should be able to charge the cab once a day at Heathrow [airport]. Combined with lower servicing and overall running costs, this means I should end up five hundred to six hundred pounds ($700 to $840) a month better off before I even go out to work.”

The cab doesn’t come cheap though, costing drivers a hefty 55,599 pounds ($77,800). But a finance plan costing 177 pounds ($250) per week over a five-year period will be the likely option for many — that compares to the former diesel-powered black cab design that cost 167 pounds ($235) per week over four years. LEVC has so far received more than 200 orders for the new taxi, according to Autocar, and it’s predicted that by the end of 2020, 9,000 of London’s 23,000 black cabs will be zero-emission-capable vehicles.

Steve McNamara, general secretary of the Licensed Taxi Drivers Association, recently described the TX as “a fantastic vehicle,” adding that it could help persuade Londoners to switch to “electric, clean, and green” vehicles.

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