The new LEVC TX taxi will start accepting fare-paying passengers in London today, the latest step in a series of trials ahead of the first deliveries of the electrified cab early next year – and Autocar has had an early taste of the car on the streets of the capital.
After an extensive development programme, a small fleet of production-spec TX cabs has been undergoing evaluation by Transport for London (TfL)-licensed black cab drivers, giving a small number of passengers free rides as part of that process. Those cabs will now be used on regular routes, giving LEVC a final chance to gather feedback and hone the design while production ramps up at its new Coventry facility.
Autocar has previously had a passenger ride on London roads in a prototype cab and driven a similar development machine on rural roads near LEVC’s new factory. We’ve now had our first taste of an effectively final-spec machine – in full classic black livery – on London roads.
The first thing to note is that our short test route, which loops out of LEVC’s North London showroom, is far from ideal for testing the dynamic properties of a car. On a busy weekday afternoon, our run down Euston Road past King's Cross, past Regents Park and round the tight streets of Little Venice offers plenty of traffic and virtually no flowing corners. Yet conversely, those are ideal conditions in which to evaluate the new TX, since it’s the sort of roads that the bulk of the London-bound examples will spend the vast bulk of their time traversing.
That said, on first sight, the prospect of driving a TX in London traffic is, to a non-taxi driver, at least, a little intimidating: it’s far bulkier than the old diesel-powered TX4 it’s replacing. The two machines share a very similar footprint – London taxi rules dictate a maximum width, as well as that famous 8.5-metre turning circle. The TX is marginally higher than its predecessor and, at 4860mm, around 280mm longer, and it certainly fills that space far more comprehensively than its predecessor. The large slab sides hint at both the far more spacious interior – for both driver and passengers – and the enhanced safety features.
In the front, the seating position is unusually elevated, sitting higher and more upright than virtually any SUV you’ll find on the market. That’s in part because the whole interior is raised due to the 330kg, 30kWh battery that runs under the floor of the interior cabin, and which gives the TX the capability to run 80 miles on pure electric power. The seating position also helps give a commanding visibility of the road ahead.
The driver’s seat won’t be mistaken for the ultimate in high-end luxury, but it’s not been designed for that: it’s more office chair than snug armchair, designed to be comfortable for prolonged use, and made from durable, long-lasting materials. It’s been designed to remain comfortable for the eight hours a day most cab drivers spend behind the wheel. Undoubtedly, it’s a massive step forward from the TX4 cab, whose seat was so uncomfortable that the bulk of drivers chose to rip it out and fit an aftermarket alternate (Recaro seats are apparently very popular).