London's iconic black cab will become electric in 2017, as a fleet of hybrid taxis drive onto the capital's streets. They will be designed to look like the current FX4 taxi, but include modern features like Wi-Fi and charging points for passengers.
The TX5 black cab has a glass roof offering panoramic views of London and has seating for six passengers, up from five in current cabs. Revealed by the London Taxi Company at an event attended by Chinese president Xi Jinping and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, the TX5 is a hybrid that uses both an electric battery and a petrol engine.
Meeting the 2017 target is important, as in 2018 a new law will come into force demanding that all taxis or private-hire vehicles will have to be "zero-emissions capable". This could include vehicles that have a petrol engine, but can run on an electric battery for a few miles. Designed in Barcelona by British engineers, the hybrid cab vows to capture the "spirit of past generations" of black cabs.
Made from lightweight aluminium, the cab will be built at a new £300m plant near Coventry by Geely, the Chinese car manufacturer that owns the London Taxi Company (LTC). The new factory will create 1,000 jobs, plus a further 500 in the supply chain. Peter Johnson, chief executive of the LTC, said: "We are hugely excited to be unveiling the TX5 prototype design for the first time and in such high company."
Johnson added: "The new vehicle has a wealth of new features, which will all be tried and tested and then tested again to provide a perfect balance of timeless design driven by ground-breaking technology."
Li Shufu, founder and chairman of Zhejiang Geely Holding Group said: "We will have invested many years of development and more than £300 million in bringing the TX5 to market. This is testament to Geely's commitment to the UK and The London Taxi Company."