This is Volkswagen's idea of a new London black cab, conceived by its design team in Germany and based on the forthcoming Up city car.
One of a trio of ‘World Taxis’, the VW Taxi Concept is smaller than the company’s current production baby, the Fox, at just 3.73m in length, 1.66m wide and 1.6m high, but it is heavier, at 1500kg. The firm claims it can accommodate two paying customers, with “legroom comparable to luxury saloons”, and several suitcases.
The concept’s powertrain is a 112bhp electric motor fuelled by a 45kWh lithium-ion battery. The set-up allows the taxi to reach a top speed of 74mph and travel for up to 186 miles between charges. The cable socket is hidden under the VW badge on the nose. VW claims 80 per cent of charge can be restored in just over an hour.
The cabin in the concept feels airy, thanks to the use of light-coloured trim materials and a glass roof panel. The requirement for only a driver’s seat up front has allowed VW to use the passenger’s space for the luggage, pushing the rear seats as far back in the Up’s structure as possible. Access is made easier still by a large pivoting door.
The driver gets a touchscreen display to show vehicle information, the fare and navigation instructions. Passengers have an infotainment panel that allows them to control the air conditioning and read information on the route and their immediate location.
VW is said to be considering putting a bespoke taxi into production — but the final vehicle would undoubtedly change to accommodate different markets’ requirements for turning circles, wheelchair access and a screen between the driver and the passenger compartments.
The firm is not alone in being attracted to the taxi market. Proposals are being prepared by a string of manufacturers, who are hoping to cash in on the traditional hackney cab’s increasingly perilous position in the face of tightening EU emissions regulations.