THE iconic London black cab is driving into the future with green technology and heading up a concerted campaign by its makers to become the urban commercial vehicle provider of choice for cities around the world.
The final design of the light electric version of the taxi - to be called the TX - has now been revealed and the order book will open on August 1, probably heralding a race between cabbies to be first on the streets with the new model which promises savings in running costs of up to £100 a week compared with the traditional diesel cab.
The TX uses a small petrol generator - known as a "range-extender" - with a class leading battery and proven electric powertrain giving a range of well-over 70 miles on pure electric and a combined range of over 400 miles with its petrol generator.
With this range, a driver could take passengers from London to Edinburgh or Paris without once needing to stop for fuel. In addition to this range, the move to electric will save drivers on average £100 a week in fuel, according to its makers.
While retaining the familiar black cab styling, the TX bristles with new features.
The instantly recognisable rectangular grille and circular headlights have been incorporated into a much more contemporary design, with daytime running lights, simplified lines, and an inset chrome frame to the grille.
A rear-hinged passenger door with 90Â°opening provides easier entry and exit for passengers and there's a new retractable integrated ramp making it quicker and easier for drivers to load passengers in wheelchairs in a new forward-facing position.
Emphasising its 21 century credentials, the TX will boast charging points for mobile phones, Wi-fi and induction loops for hearing aids a well as contrasting grab handles and seat edges for the partially sighted.
The TX is currently undergoing final testing and its makers expect first examples to be on London's streets later this year - but the company has a global electric dream. So much so that it has changed its name from the London Taxi Company to the London Electric Vehicle Company (LEVC).
According to the company's CEO, Chris Gubbey:
a wholly-owned subsidiary of Chinese maker Geely, has invested £325 million in its electric future, and the investment is already paying off with an initial order for 225 TX cabs from the Netherlands to be delivered next year.
And with Transport for London currently anticipating that 9,000 London cabs will be "zero emission capable" vehicles by the end of 2020 its future looks very bright indeed.