Currently reading: VW's London taxi 'to go global'
Production of VW's electric Taxi Concept is being "deeply considered" as a future for large cities

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.

See Autocar's exclusive studio pics of the VW Taxi Concept

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.

Read Hilton Holloway's blog about VW's concept cab

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.

Read the full story on VW's electric Taxi Concept

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.

Hilton Holloway

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disco.stu 16 December 2010

Re: VW's London taxi 'to go global'

evanstim wrote:
It is just me or is the idea of a German company designing and manufacturing the replacement for the iconic London cabs slightly wrong?

Totally. And totally unlike the German company who own and run Bentley, the German company who own and run Rolls-Royce, the German company who own and run Mini, the Indian company who own and run Jaguar Land Rover, the Malaysian company who own and run Lotus or the Arab company who own Aston Martin...

Do you seriously expect the British car industry to take the lead in commissioning a suitable 21st century London cab?

OrangeProse 16 December 2010

Re: VW's London taxi 'to go global'

evanstim wrote the following post at Dec 15, 2010 5:22 PM:

It is just me or is the idea of a German company designing and manufacturing the replacement for the iconic London cabs slightly wrong?

Well, our royal family is effectively German so by comparison this is perfectly acceptable.

Anyway. To reiterate: VW is not specifically designing this car as the 'new London taxi'. There is no official 'replacement' talk. It is simply a slightly misleading headline - what VW is doing is using the London taxi as a benchmark for what is clearly intended to be an identifiable 'world taxi' for markets across Europe, MEA, BRIIC and probably beyond.

roverfan1984 15 December 2010

Re: VW's London taxi 'to go global'

I don't live in London, where I live, like most towns, most taxis are normal cars (Skoda Octavias, Citroen Picassos, etc), but there are 7/8 seater taxis as well which charge more, but are handy for large groups.

Many people have commented that this VW taxi concept is not as practical as the traditional London taxi. Of course its not, its much smaller, but that is completely missing the point. As fuel gets more & more expensive, taxis will have to become smaller & more fuel efficient, or they won't be able to pay their way. I envisage a taxi system in London which becomes more like the rest of the UK, most vehicles being small like this & capable of carrying 2 passengers (which will cover 80-90% of taxi journeys) & larger 7 seaters available for those who need them, charging a premium over the smaller taxis of course.

This is inevitable & regardless of whether VW are foreign or not, they are showing forward-thinking- cities will be full of taxis like this in the future.