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
2 mins read
15 December 2010

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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15 December 2010

I reckon this is a great idea. The majority of the cabs that I see have one or two people in them but the vast majority have a single passenger. Sure there are going to be occasions where you need to seat more so there will always be room for a bigger version. Does anyone know what the average London cab ride distance is?

15 December 2010

I do. Three to four miles, at an average cost of just under £11

15 December 2010

It does not look like they have wheelchair access surely this is a requirement isnt it?

Bit cheeky having a city of London crest and a grey union flag on the roof considering its German.

It has also lost the glamour of the London cab and become a stiff functional item with no soul.

Very Sad....why cant we just do one ourselves like the London Bus project??

15 December 2010

[quote] . . . spent three days studying, measuring and driving it . . . particularly inspired by the ‘iconic’ London cab because it is the most function-specific taxi in the world.[/quote]

But seemingly they failed to notice the number of seats offered in the most function-specific taxi in the world.

[quote] . . . VW’s design team also . . . discovered that . . . a New York cab driver would carry 42 passengers on 30 trips averaging 2.47 miles.[/quote]

Averages are all well and good but you go out with friends in the evening - do you want to pay for one taxi drivers' time or two? I'd prefer one.

London taxis are already up against stiff competition in the form of minicabs - why would they want to further disadavantage themselves?

15 December 2010

It's just a concept exploration at this stage. VW used LTI cabs as a basis for the vehicle as they're widely recognised as the best in the world but I don't think Transport For London are involved at this point.

I do think this VW concept seems like a sensible idea; it's clearly aimed not so much at London or New York but at emerging urban areas - ricketty, smoky old cabs in cities like Beijing, Seoul, Kuala Lumpur or Rio number in their thousands and this would be a modern, effective replacement.

To be honest, as a Londoner, I'm not particularly enamoured of perceived 'glamour' of the current London cab to require something with unnecessary design curlicues and crenellations. It is a functional product to serve a purpose. Wheelchair access is a necessary consideration and I would imagine that any production-adjacent model would address this.

15 December 2010

i think many taxi drivers would rather go back to an FX4 than this drot

15 December 2010

[quote VX220EDDIE] i think many taxi drivers would rather go back to an FX4 than this drot
[/quote]Was that the Austin one that preceded the Nissan thing? If so, I wholeheartedly agree on aesthetic grounds.

15 December 2010

There was/is a new Taxi concept by Geely who own the Black cab company but its very similar to the current TX4 in size. VW did a Milan taxi before this so it seems they like Mercedes want to cash in on our taxi market.

15 December 2010

[quote JordanB2710]it seems they like Mercedes want to cash in on our taxi market.

Rather than buy a taxi which is based on a modified car, produced by an overseas manufacturer, I'm wondering whether it would be possible for the UK to start a new urban-taxi manufacturing plant.

It may sound barking-mad, but think it through.

  • London is the home of what is possibly the world's best designed taxi.
  • London taxi drivers know exactly where the strengths/weaknesses of the existing model lies, so they could be consulted in order to get it right, rather than simply allowing car manufacturers to tell us what is right and what (conveniently) happens to be precisely what they can deliver.
  • What works as a London taxi will (presumably) also work as a Manchester taxi, Birmingham taxi, Edinburgh taxi, Milan taxi, Berlin taxi, . . . and (presumably) AlmostAnyOtherCity taxi.
  • The global market for the perfect urban taxi would (presumably) be sufficient to justify the existence of a company that is dedicated to producing the perfect urban taxi.
  • There is spare capacity at UK car manufacturing plants.
  • The government want the UK to become a centre for EV R&D.
  • There would be additional jobs & export revenues if we could manufacture in addition to design.

Is it a stupid thought? (If "yes", please explain why, even if it is simply that you don't believe the market is sufficiently large.)

15 December 2010

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


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