The wraps were taken off the new British-built electric London taxi today as the Chinese-owned firm behind the ‘green’ cab said first export orders were also in.
It is promising cabbies an average weekly fuel saving of £100 compared with the outgoing diesel model – or around £25,000 over five years.
The new electric taxi – simply called ‘TX’ – also marks a change of name for the London Taxi Company which will now be known by the initials ‘LEVC’.
Green cabs: The Coventry-built TX vehicles are said to save cabbies £25k in five years
This stands for ‘London EV Company’ to signal their ‘global ambitions’ and recognise that their factory near Coventry will build both electric taxis and electric vans.
The firm, owned by Chinese car giant Geely, announced its first major international order of 225 vehicles to Dutch taxi firm RMC, one of the Netherlands’ largest taxi operators, to be delivered in 2018.
That ‘initial’ order is expected to grow, it said.
Chris Gubbey, chief executive of LEVC, said it was ‘great news’ adding: ‘We have been extremely impressed with the vision and business plan presented by the management team at RMC and we look forward to a long and fruitful relationship.’
The main order book for the new electric TX opens on 1 August 2017 for UK and foreign taxi drivers who have registered an interest
It comes after sister firm Volvo, also owned by Geely, announced last week that all new Volvos from 2019 would be fully or partially electric, marking the end of the purely petrol or diesel engine.
Coventry: Geely has invested £325m in its electric cab and van venture near Coventry
So far Geely has invested £325million in its electric cab and van venture at Ansty, near Coventry, in the Midlands, announcing hundreds of new jobs.
The firm says its ‘single-minded ambition’ is for the newly re-named ‘LEVC’ to become ‘the urban commercial vehicle provider of choice for cities around the world’.
Mr Gubbey said: ‘Today is an incredibly exciting day for the company, for the world’s cities, for the air we breathe and for the drivers of commercial vehicles.
‘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.’
The firm also revealed the final version of the the TX and its ‘eCity’ electric technology comprising an advanced battery electric powertrain with a small petrol generator – known as a ‘range-extender’ – which acts like a mini on-board power station to create extra electricity in addition to that stored in the batteries.
The technology allows for a range of over 400 miles including ‘well over 70 miles range’ on full electric power with zero emissions.
Zero-emissions: From January 2018, all new cabs must be pollution-free
Mr Gubbey said: ‘From our heritage as the manufacturer of the iconic London Taxi, we have unparalleled insight into the needs of commercial operators.
‘Drawing on the best of British design and engineering as well as technical expertise from our sister company Volvo, our products will help transform city living and provide taxi drivers with an average weekly fuel saving of £100 compared with our outgoing diesel model.’
Set for its official launch later this year, the TX has been tested in the heat of the Arizona desert and freezing temperatures in the Arctic Circle.
Gubbey added: ‘London has led the way in setting out tough measures to reduce taxi and van emissions and in just a few short years we expect electric vehicles EVs for the commercial operator will not just become commonplace, but mandatory in cities around the world creating huge opportunities for LEVC globally.’
The firm says drivers of the new electric TX will save on average £100 per week in fuel with no separate battery leasing.
From 1 August it will be inviting cabbies who have expressed an interest to personalise their purchases via its website.
Until now, the finished cab has been seen only in disguise, including running up the hill at the Goodwood Festival of Speed, though an earlier prototype has been without camouflage.
Gubbey says the new TX5 electric cab is recognisably a London Cab but has been redesigned from the ground up for the 21st century and shared not a single part with the diesel-engined cab it replaces.
The new TX5 has six seats instead of the five at present –three fixed and three drop-down – more space, greater comfort for both the passengers and the driver, wi-fi and charging points, and better ramp facilities for disabled passengers.
It will be able to run more than 70 miles on electric power only – enough says the firm for a driver to complete a day’s shift – with a ‘range-extender’ back-up using an on-board 1.5-litre 3-cylinder petrol engine that generates electricity for the electric motors, to ease fears that it might run out of juice.
From January 2018, all new cabs in London must be pollution free and zero-emissions.
With the crackdown on diesel, Transport for London expects that by the end of 2020 half of London’s 23,500 taxis will be ‘zero emission capable’ vehicles.