As the capital city of England and a prime tourist destination, the twin cities of London, Westminster, and their surrounding boroughs are known for having a massive problem with both air quality and traffic congestion. For nearly eleven years, London’s congestion charging zone — and low emissions zones — have sought to improve both by respectively charging a daily levy on non-green passenger vehicle entering London and charging high taxes on drivers of non-Euro IV emissions standard commercial vehicles which enter into the greater London area.
Now London is on a race to improve the quality of its countless iconic London Hackney Carriages (black cabs) after London Mayor Boris Johnson announced that all new taxi cabs entering service on or after January 1, 2018 would need to have some form of zero emissions capability. This could include all-electric or plug-in hybrid taxi cabs, as well as more exotic fuel sources like hydrogen fuel cell and perhaps even compressed-air vehicles.
So it’s nor surprise then that Metrocab — the manufacturer responsible for building the majority of licensed black cabs you seen on the streets of London today — has unveiled a prototype range-extended EV taxi cab which it says will dramatically improve operating cost for taxi drivers (cabbies) as well as air quality and fuel economy.
Unveiled last week, just a few weeks after Nissan unveiled its own, more efficient gasoline NV-200 London Taxi and zero-emission e-NV200 London taxi cab, the New Metrocab was built in a joint project between Metrocab and Fraser-Nash.
Power is transferred to the road by not one, but two 50 kilowatt electric motors, giving the taxi more than enough torque to easily carry six passengers (seventh seat optional) and their luggage.
Range, according to the London Public Carriage Office (PCO) test cycle, is around 50 miles, thanks to the Taxi’s on-board 12.2 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack. That might sound like a lot for such a small pack, but it’s worth remembering that a Taxi’s duty cycle involves an average speed of well below 30 mph.
When the battery pack is depleted, a 1.0-litre rang-extending engine kicks in, providing a combined fuel economy on the PCO test cycle of around 70 mpg (imperial).
Given taxis aren’t expected to accelerate all that much beyond the 30 mph limit in force on most London roads, there’s no mention of a 0-30 or 0-60 time for this cab, but Metrocab says the vehicle’s electronically limited top speed of 80mph is more than enough to help cabbies circumnavigate London’s busy M25 orbital motorway.
Inside, there’s all the usual features a cabbie and their passengers would expect, including a colour LCD video monitor, USB charging capability, a digital infotainment system and handsfree telephone, as well as air conditioning throughout.
Metrocab says the new vehicle could save cabbies up to £40 a day in fuel costs, while reducing carbon dioxide emissions by more than 75 percent compared to existing diesel-powered models produced by the firm.
The only disappointment? Unlike Nissan’s e-NV200, which features rapid charging capabilities, this particular range-extended EV only charges at 3 kW, meaning it’ll take upwards of four hours to fully charge the on-board battery pack.
Metrocab says it is in the process of looking for test-fleet drivers, so if you know a friendly London cabbie who wants to save some money and help the drive towards zero emissions for London’s iconic cabs, tell them to get in touch with the MetroCab Test Team.
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