Japanese automaker Nissan might be known worldwide for its zero-emission all-electric LEAF and e-NV200 electric minivan, but while its electric vehicles are winning praise for their environmentally-friendly credentials another of Nissan’s creations has been shuttered due to tough new emissions laws in London, England.
Enter Nissan’s NV200 ‘Taxi of Tomorrow,” a specially-designed minicab variant of Nissan’s gasoline NV200 minivan, and London Mayor Boris Johnson.
Already licensed for duty in both New York City and Barcelona, Spain (where it happens to be made at Nissan’s NV200 production facility) the NV200 Taxi was originally marketed as a more efficient and more passenger-friendly minicab for today’s busy Megacities. But with a higher sticker price, non-hybrid 1.6 litre engine and worse fuel economy than a Toyota Prius — another vehicle approved for use as a Medallion Taxi in New York City — New York Taxi Fleets haven’t been quick to trade in their old cars for the NV200, especially as many drivers see the step back to the NV200 as a backwards step away from the benefits of running a hybrid cab.
But the NV200 London Black Cab edition, which was especially designed to evoke the famous round headlights and large grilles of London’s iconic Black Cabs, has hit its own road block: Boris Johnson’s decree that all London Black Cabs be zero-emissions capable by 2018.
The irony? While Nissan has already built — and showcased — an all-electric variant of the NV200 taxi for London and is even selling a taxi-variant of the e-NV200 in Barcelona, it wouldn’t pass the long list of requirements for London’s Taxi Cab fleet.
As AutoExpress details, Nissan’s current NV200 Taxi manages a far better fuel economy than the outgoing diesel-powered TX4 Black Cabs that have been a feature of London’s roads for many years. With a CVT gearbox, the 1.6 litre gasoline engine of the NV200 Taxi manages around 38 mpg on the special gas-mileage rating system used to rate London Taxi Cabs, a full 6 mpg better than the outgoing TX4 and with considerably less particulate emissions too.
Despite this however, the standard production NV200 Taxi has no capability to operate as a zero-emissions vehicle.
That’s a major problem for Nissan, since Mayor Johnson has promised that London will have 7,000 zero-emissions capable taxis on her streets in just six years’ time. While the requirement doesn’t specify vehicles must be completely zero emission, it does require Taxis operate as at least plug-in hybrids, with enough battery range to operate in London’s new proposed Zero Emissions Zone.
Worse still, one of Nissan’s rivals in the taxi marketplace — British firm Metrocab — has already trailed a plug-in hybrid taxi in London, leaving Nissan with just one option: bring the e-NV200 taxi to market in double-quick time.
But the problem, says Nissan, is that its e-NV200 wouldn’t meet the other tough requirements set for an official London Black Cab, and the NV200 taxi would be rendered obsolete in just two years. Instead, it has decided to suspend its London Taxi Project for the time being.
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