Metrocab low-pollution range-extender taxis are now carrying fare-paying passengers in the capital
11 February 2015

The new British-made Metrocab electric black cab has started testing on the roads of the capital after being licensed to operate as a Hackney Carriage on a trial basis.

Transport for London says it is the first taxi capable of zero emissions and that "the first few" are already carrying fare-paying passengers in London. Autocar had an exclusive drive in the Metrocab prototype last year.

The six-passenger Metrocab is built by Frazer-Nash Research and Ecotive and is a range-extender electric vehicle, much like the New Bus for London. It is directly powered by two 50kW electric motors – which also offer a maximum 1032lb ft of torque - and a 12.2kW battery pack.

Back-up power is provided by a 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol engine driving a generator, and the battery pack can also be recharged via a mains electrical socket.

The Metrocab is claimed to return 98mpg and less than 50g/km of CO2, making it "more than three times as economical as the comparable current London taxi". The company claims that lower running costs could add up to £20-£40 per day for London cabbies.

The Metrocab is 4.9m long and 1.93m high. It is limited to an 80mph top speed and has the tight 7.62m turning circle that marks out Hackney Carriages.

The company also says the taxi will be more luxurious than today’s black cabs, riding on air suspension, having air conditioning as standard and getting a panoramic glass roof (allowing a view of the cityscape) and interior ‘mood’ lighting.

The Metrocab arrives just as the tide is turning against diesel-powered transport in city centres. Paris recently announced plans to ban older vehicles from the centre of the city and London mayor Boris Johnson says he wants to establish an ‘Ultra Low Emission Zone’ in the centre of the British capital.

It's estimated that today’s diesel-powered London black cab fleet is responsible for as much as 25% of particulate emissions. Both the capital’s nitrogen oxide and particulate levels are well in excess of EU-mandated limits.

Join the debate


11 February 2015
Should have happened years ago and it'll be a big shock to people who've never experienced the quietness and smoothness of the plug-in.

typos1 - Just can’t respect opinion

11 February 2015
autocar wrote:

The company claims that lower running costs could add up to £20-£40 per day for London cabbies.

Does that running cost take in to account depreciation / lease costs? Always beware of anyone who makes claims using the word 'could'. The car COULD save cabbies £20-£40 a day, there again it COULD cost them an extra £20-£40 per day.

11 February 2015
I'm not sure if depreciation is something most taxi drivers would take into account when buying their new taxi.

12 February 2015
It's good to hear that the chassis of this new cab has advanced along with the power unit. I expect the ride will be a revelation compared with previous cabs with their suspension technology stuck in the 1950s.

12 February 2015
The UK is supposed to pay a 300 million fine each year for failing on the emissions target to the EU. Surely it makes financial sense to use the 300 million to trade in the black cabs for these new electric ones. Cut emissions by 25% and hit the target and stop being fined. How much this would save the nation on health benefits I'm sure a economist has worked out. Politics keep it simple.

12 February 2015
'London's electric cab goes live'? Sounds pretty dangerous to me!!

12 February 2015
This powertrain is best-suited for a city car and what is more of a city car than a taxi? You need torque over power off the line and it really doesn't even need to top out at 80 because they seldom, or should be seldom, venture onto motorways. Hopefully the "luxury" touches don't suck up to much battery or it all becomes a moot point.

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