All-new TX5 cab brings hybrid power and usual tight turning circle - and it'll be built in a new UK factory capable of 36,000 cars per year
21 October 2015

London Taxi Company of Coventry has revealed the all-new TX5 cab it hopes will capture a major slice of the London taxi market, and carve itself a much larger international export business when it hits the market in 2017.

The unveiling is timed to coincide with a UK meeting today between David Cameron and the Chinese premier, Xi Jinping, who will be first to see the all-new design in the flesh.

Engineered from the ground up on a new plug-in hybrid platform - to give the zero-emissions performance required of all new cabs in London from 2018 - the new LTC design is part of a £250m effort by its new owner, Chinese manufacturer Geely, to revitalise the venerable Coventry-based firm. Li Shufu, Geely's chairman, will also be on hand for the new taxi's debut.

The recent expenditure includes £50m to build an all-new factory that will make at least 36,000 cars a year and will eventually build up to seven different electric vehicles based on the same architecture, an all-aluminium spaceframe clad with composite panels. The current London demand for cabs is only about 3500 units a year.

Geely has so far given no details of the new TX5's mechanical layout beyond the fact that it is a hybrid that uses a nose-mounted four-cylinder petrol engine as a key component, but can run for an extended period entirely on battery power. It obeys all the well-known London taxi requirements for wheelchair access, luggage capacity beside the driver, a tiny turning circle and face-to-face passenger seating (for six people, not five).

"It is little taller and a little longer than its ancestors", says Geely group design boss Peter Horbury, who oversaw the project. "But it's no wider; taxi drivers we talked to told us that was important."

The new taxi was styled at Geely's (formerly Volvo's) design studio in central Barcelona, run by David Ancona, using a mechanical package created at LTC in Coventry. Ancona describes the task of replacing "the only singular taxi in the world" as a deceptively simple brief that gets harder the more you work at it.

Using design influences from the FX4 from 1958, which Ancona and Horbury believe has a greater authenticity than later designs, Geely's designers produced many iterations and two complete designs before they were satisfied, discarding their first major proposal because they felt it lacked gravitas.

"Our first car did the job, re-interpreting things like the vertical grille, the haunches, the bustle-back and the forward opening passenger doors," says Horbury, "but it was a bit too cute. A London cab has to fit effortlessly into the modern scene; to have an air of authority and trustworthiness. We're confident we have that now."

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Comments
9

21 October 2015
Looks like a black cab, hope it uses a Volvo hybrid powertrain. If it does it might be the first black cab capable of more than 25mpg and emissions that don't kill anyone but whose output has been blamed on clean cars by idiots like Ken Livingstone.

21 October 2015
Thought that was a Bentayga in Beluga for a second there.

22 October 2015
The proportions are what you'd expect for a modern taxi vehicle, but the nose is gopping.

22 October 2015
the Black Cab industry aided by the government. No trained drivers, little regulation. Is there still a market for Black Cabs?? Personally, I love black cabs and would spend a little extra for a knowledgable trustworthy driver who is properly trained and licensed, but then I guess I'm a bit of a dinosaur. I even prefer manual sports cars...there I said it!

22 October 2015
They've actually done a reasonable job of making it look recognisably like a traditional "black taxi", without making it an overly retro caricature. Some of the styling elements and proportions are there, modernised with bigger windows and a boxier - therefore roomier - overall shape. Certainly looks more like a London cab than a Nissan or Mercedes van.

22 October 2015
Low production volume means high costs. In a open market for public road transport, the Black cab has a limited future. I want my chosen transport to pick me up from a set of GPS co-ordinates. I also want a competitive market. Finally, if I want a long distance trip, a Black cab is not a choice. Maybe I even want to hire an SUV for off road destination. The Black cab is a dinosaur in the 21st century.

Malo Mori Quam Foedari

22 October 2015
With the Chinese president's State visit this week accompanied by a combination of good news of new investments (like the above, and ADL's £600m bus joint venture) and bad news of steel plant closures, I'm disappointed by the lack of "sweet and sour Chinese" headlines in the media.

23 October 2015
Whatever happened to Nissan, thought they were set to produce the black cab just like their yellow NV200 NYC models? Together with the tech they already use in the Leaf, thought Nissan would have dominated the London market. What went wrong?

24 October 2015
Looks cr*p.

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