The first of the new electric black cabs are taking to the streets of London today as they enter the final phase of testing ahead of the January deadline for all newly licensed taxis to be zero emission capable.
After weathering some rigorous tests, including dealing with extreme weather conditions in the Arctic and Death Valley in California, the test vehicles now face their final challenge. That's right: London's roads.
The test fleet drivers are London cabbies and will help to collect information such as the emissions savings being made, as well as the performance of the capital's charge point infrastructure. That will all be compiled before the cars are delivered to customers and made available to fare paying passengers later in the year.
The London Taxi Company officially renamed to the London Electric Vehicle Company (LEVC) last month, changing direction after a £325m investment from its Chinese parent firm Geely.
And the order book for the new taxi model, the TX, opened in August. It 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.
The new cab has six seats, contactless card machines, on-board Wi-Fi and USB charging.
Chris Gubbey, chief executive of the LEVC, said:
We are incredibly excited to deliver our six test vehicles to the streets of London today. Made in the UK, this is set to be the best taxi in the world for the best taxi service in the world.
We will now be able to accurately quantify the significant improvements these vehicles will make to London’s air quality which will benefit all Londoners regardless of whether you use taxis or not. For those that do, the experience will be transformational.