The London Taxi Company has unveiled its first electric taxi - and announced it is renaming to the London Electric Vehicle Company (LEVC).
The firm has changed direction with a £325m investment from Chinese parent firm Geely and announced its ambition to become "the urban commercial vehicle provider of choice for cities around the world".
While well-known for the capital's iconic cab, the firm is looking further afield with its new design, and today LEVC also announced its first major international deal. It has appointed RMC as the importer for the Netherlands, with an initial order for 225 vehicles.
Check out the final version of the new London taxi - the TX:
Its order book for the TX, the new taxi model name, opens on 1 August and will start with drivers who have registered an interest.
The TX combines a small petrol generator with a battery and proven electric powertrain, giving drivers a range of over 70 miles on pure electric, and a combined range of over 400 miles. So a driver could take passengers from London to Edinburgh without needing to stop for fuel.
While chief executive Chris Gubbey wouldn't disclose the price, saying drivers will be looking at the weekly amount it costs, he did say "it's going to be very competitive".
Initially, the company will sit down with drivers "based on their individual position" and say what the weekly price is they will pay for the vehicle. Gubbey added that drivers of the new electric TX will save on average, £100 per week in fuel, with no separate battery leasing, compared to the outgoing diesel model.
The rename becomes official in September, and Gubbey said there was "huge debate" over whether to keep London in the title, with the company's fresh global push, but decided "we couldn't lose that heritage".
Unveiling the final design, Gubbey said:
The launch of LEVC marks Britain’s leadership as a first mover in creating the world’s only dedicated electric vehicle company for the urban commercial market.
Touch screen, Wi-Fi and a six-seater
As for the design itself, the recognisable rectangular grille and circular headlights have been included in a more contemporary look, with an inset chrome frame to the grille. The design team wanted to keep "iconic features", such as the strong roof line present in all former versions of the black taxi.
There's also a large touch screen for drivers, charging points for mobile phones, Wi-Fi, and space for six passengers.
The London trial for the new taxi starts in October, where as well as getting feedback from the drivers, LEVC will be supplying passengers with tablets to fill in a questionnaire before they finish their journey.
The electric future
Transport for London (TfL) forecasts that by the end of 2020, 9,000 London taxis will be zero emission capable vehicles, and is spending £18m on upgrading the capital's power grids to charge the first generation of battery-powered black cabs.
From 1 January next year, all new black cabs will have to be zero-emission capable as part of TfL's crack down on the pollution from diesel engines.
Gubbey said: "In just a few short years, we expect EVs for the commercial operator will not just become commonplace, but mandatory in cities around the world creating huge opportunities for LEVC globally."