VW’s Up-based electric Taxi Concept is being "deeply considered" by the company board for production in 2013, according to Klaus Bischoff, the company’s head of design.
VW believes that future legislation will force inner-city vehicles to offer low emissions and zero exhaust pollution, and that the 180-mile range and one-hour charge time will fit into the work patterns of nearly all taxi drivers around the world.
Although the battery-powered vehicle is designed as a future vehicle for large cities, VW’s design team says it made a particular study of the classic London cab when it designed the Taxi Concept.
VW designers managed to borrow a London black cab from a company in Wolfsburg and spent three days studying, measuring and driving it. Company designers say they were particularly inspired by the ‘iconic’ London cab because it is the most function-specific taxi in the world.
VW’s design team also worked with New York cab drivers, in order to understand the real-world requirements of a typical taxi. They discovered that, during a typical 10-hour shift, a New York cab driver would carry 42 passengers on 30 trips averaging 2.47 miles.
The low average number of passengers is the reason VW thinks that two seats is enough for nearly all cab journeys. However, a collapsible jump seat fitted into the front luggage compartment is being considered for the VW.
The on-board flat-panel displays are designed to give more information to the passenger about the trip, as well as making translation and payment – via a card swipe in the rear cabin - easier.
Sources say that if the go-ahead is given for production, they are sure they could meet the requirements for London, including accommodating a wheelchair and achieving a 28ft turning-circle. The sliding electric side door would also be on the correct side for right-hand-drive markets.
Tomaz Bachorski, the chief interior designer on the project told Autocar that the concept was "as advanced as possible, while still being produceable". He said the glass panels in the roof would allow passengers to enjoy London’s landscape, rather than being boxed in.