New range-extender black cab has a range of more than 400 miles, and can run for more than 70 miles on electric power only

A new, electrified London taxi has been revealed. Called the LEVC TX, it has been built and developed by the now renamed London Taxi Company, which is owned by Geely, the Chinese owner of Volvo.

The TX is powered by an advanced battery electric powertrain with a 1.3-litre petrol generator, a system which its maker calls eCity. This range-extender technology gives the TX a range of over 400 miles, and it can run for more than 70 miles on electric power only. Although full technical specifications will be revealed at a later date, it can charge from empty to almost full in 20 minutes on a rapid charger, in two hours with a fast charger and in eight to 10 hours on a trickle charge.

Exclusive: first ride in new London Black Cab up Goodwood hill

A disguised TX prototype ran at the recent Goodwood Festival of Speed, with the production car still undergoing testing, including exposure to extreme hot and cold weather in Arizona, US, and the Arctic Circle respectively. These latest, official pictures reveal the lengths Geely's design team has gone to to incorporate the iconic London Black Cab look, most notably from the FX4 and TX4.

"The biggest gulp moment of my career was being asked to redesign the Volvo sportswagon - it was like taking care of the Swedish crown jewels - but this job is right up there," said Geely's executive vice president of design Peter Horbury. "You know criticism will come on projects like that - and this is another one in the same vein.

"The starting point was to meet the requirements of such a vehicle - the turning circle, the powertrain, the driver's space and then carrying capacity. In truth, what we were then left with was a square box. To get the shape we then required to meet our aesthetic goals was always going to be a challenge, but we pulled and pushed the engineers and gradually we were able to create a car that is a modern interpretation of what has gone before. My take on retro design is that you shouldn't repeat what has gone before but you can offer up nods that remind people of it. That's what we've done.

"You also have to remember that this is a vehicle that will typically have a 15-20 year life. It doesn't get replaced after seven years like a conventional car, so we had to avoid creating something that would age quickly. If you look at some of the extreme car designs today, ones that grab and shock you, they don't tend to age well. We wanted a look that will stand the test of time, and if that has meant toning it down at times, then that's what we've done. This car must look relevant 20 years down the line."

The TX is made using aluminium bonding, which LEVC says reduces the weight of the car to the point that it offsets the weight of the battery while maintaining vehicle strength. No overall vehicle weight has been given, however.

Inside, LEVC says that the TX has a more premium feel than its predecessor, with less vibration and noise in the passenger area, plus charging points for mobile phones and wi-fi. There is seating for six passengers. A retractable integrated ramp also makes access for passengers in wheelchairs quicker and easier in a new forward-facing position.

LEVC CEO Chris Gubbey said: “From our heritage as the manufacturer of the iconic London Taxi, we have unparalleled insight into the needs of commercial operators. Drawing on the best of British design and engineering as well as technical expertise from our sister company Volvo, our products will help transform city living and provide taxi drivers with an average weekly fuel saving of £100 compared with our outgoing diesel model.”

The rebranding of the firm from the London Taxi Company (LTC) to the London Electric Vehicle Company (LEVC) - is motivated by the firm’s desire to expand its sales beyond the UK and its portfolio beyond taxis. To that end, an order for more than 250 TXs has been taken for the Netherlands and an electric light commercial vehicle (LCV) is already under development.

By the end of 2020, Transport for London (TfL) wants to have 9000 taxis on the city’s streets that are capable of zero-emissions driving. By law, all new taxis sold from 2018 onwards must have the means of electrical propulsion, and LEVC is hoping that this will encourage local councils to invest in improved charging infrastructure.

Sales of the TX will begin on 1 August, London trials in October and first deliveries before the end of 2017.

No price has yet been revealed, but LEVC says it has focussed on weekly lease costs rather than an outright purchase price because that is how 94% of taxi drivers fund their vehicles. The TX will be sold with its battery, so that no additional lease charges are incurred. Even so, insiders expect the ownership costs to be an improvement on today's, buoyed by what LEVC says will be an average saving of £100 a week on fuel.

New LEVC TX taxi - key design points with David Ancona, Design director and general manager at Geely Design Barcelona

"I actually learnt to drive in an FX3 taxi - it was in the family - so a little bit of this project is in my blood. We started on the project in 2013 and the biggest challenges were to meet all of the requirements - from interior space to packaging the powertrain to the turning circle - without ending up with a box on wheels.

“By pushing the engineers for a few millimetres here and there we managed to achieve that; it is amazing how pulling in some bodywork 5mm and pushing some other sections out by the same amount can make such a difference.

"Externally, the face of the car was probably the hardest part. Partly, that was because it is an all-new vehicle and the requirements kept changing as other parts of the project developed. You'd settle on a bonnet angle, for instance, and then the engineers would find a very good reason to repackage the powertrain.

“But we also wanted to ensure we had a contemporary look to the car - one with plenty of character, but which wouldn't date quickly. It's relatively easy to do aggressive, or cute or whatever, but getting the balance right here was very tricky. You'll see the nods to our past in the round lights, the grille design and the placement of the badging, but nothing too much. The goal was to create a car that conveys it is serious, reliable and friendly. No doubt the world will let us know if we’ve done that.

“There are some key features that helped resolve the design. The round headlights at the front, with the circular LEDs running around the exterior that also act as the indicator flasher are a nice touch. There are very strong horizontal lines down the side to reduce the visual height of the vehicle and then the continuous glass structure which serves to stretch the car out. The panoramic roof is a very nice touch as well - what a great way to take in the views.

“Just as important where the practicality aspects of the design. The rear-hinged rear door, for instance, puts an end to that ridiculous dance you had to do from telling the driver where you wanted to go to getting in - or when you tried to pay when you got out. They open 90deg, of course, which is a huge practicality benefit, and the onboard ramp aids access.

“Nor is it just about the passengers - although creating space for six of them was challenging enough when we knew we couldn’t wider the vehicle width with mirrors. We’ve spent a lot of time making more room and a better space for the driver. It’s their office - and for long amounts of time, so that was just as important.”

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Comments
17

11 July 2017
Give it a more imposing grille, and squint a bit, and it could be a Phantom! I assume it won't be made here any longer?

11 July 2017
Straff wrote:

Give it a more imposing grille, and squint a bit, and it could be a Phantom! I assume it won't be made here any longer?

Should have gone to specsavers :)

12 July 2017
chris1969 wrote:
Straff wrote:

Give it a more imposing grille, and squint a bit, and it could be a Phantom! I assume it won't be made here any longer?

Should have gone to specsavers :)

Sorry, Chris; you're right. I meant the Bent Tiger :-)

11 July 2017
Your new prize asset gets photographed by an amateur with a Brownie box. What a missed opportunity!

11 July 2017
Straff wrote:

Give it a more imposing grille, and squint a bit, and it could be a Phantom! I assume it won't be made here any longer?

They've just built a brand new high tech factory to assemble them, it's in the UK, they are transferring all the staff from the existing facility in Coventry to it.

11 July 2017
In one nameless large Scottish city the council have hidden a report which stated the biggest polluter was their own bus company. Hidden because they didn't want to admit they were the worst offenders!

So how do you reduce pollution in a city?

Easy, target those vehicles which are active all day. Buses, taxis, or delivery trucks. They create a staggering amount more than modern cars that even cutting by a tiny fraction would make more difference than "congestion charging".

11 July 2017
Symanski wrote:

In one nameless large Scottish city the council have hidden a report which stated the biggest polluter was their own bus company.

Hmmm, that wouldn't be the same large Scottish city that has recently introduced a ridiculous blanket 20mph limit, would it? Apparently to reduce pollution - can't imagine how burying a report that indicates what a complete waste of time and money that is would help justify that.

11 July 2017
Symanski wrote:

In one nameless large Scottish city the council have hidden a report which stated the biggest polluter was their own bus company.

Hmmm, that wouldn't be the same large Scottish city that has recently introduced a ridiculous blanket 20mph limit, would it? Apparently to reduce pollution - can't imagine how burying a report that indicates what a complete waste of time and money that is would help justify that.

11 July 2017
Blue Chill wrote:

Hmmm, that wouldn't be the same large Scottish city that has recently introduced a ridiculous blanket 20mph limit, would it? Apparently to reduce pollution - can't imagine how burying a report that indicates what a complete waste of time and money that is would help justify that.

I'm sure they also wasted a billion on a toy train set too...

11 July 2017
Symanski wrote:

... large Scottish city the council have hidden a report which stated the biggest polluter was their own bus company. Hidden because they didn't want to admit they were the worst offenders!....

Didn't hide it very well then.

 

Hydrogen cars just went POP

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