London's black cabs turn green as electric-powered taxis hit roads
The new taxis are being hailed as the cleanest and most advanced cabs ever, and they maintain their classic look too like their predecessors. Photograph: (Reuters)
London's taxis got the much-needed upgrade in the form of electric-powered cabs which were rolled out on the British capital's streets this week. The step has been taken in view of the high pollution levels in the city.
The new taxis are being hailed as the cleanest and most advanced cabs ever, and they maintain their classic look too like their predecessors. The new cabs have air conditioning, phone charging, power sockets for laptops, Wi-Fi, a panoramic roof and more spacious cabin with six seats.
"It's a much more comfortable ride, it can take six passengers in the back much more comfortably. The handling is so much better, the noise is so much better, and you can charge your phone, your computer," said Chris Gubbey, CEO of London Electric Vehicle Company, the makers of these new cabs.
Although the upgrade to a new set of wheels will set back cabbies about 55,000 pounds, or roughly $74,000, Gubbey says it will also save about 100 pounds on average weekly fuel costs.
"It's not a step up, it's a thousand steps up, it's a different world," said Pat Follen, who switched to one of the new vehicles after nearly 10 years driving older versions. "All you can hear really is the tires on the tarmac - and the wind!"
These new cabs will meet the strict new emissions regulations required for all new London taxis from 2018. The car's filter system works to remove gases and particles from the incoming air. It also has an in-built air quality sensor which automatically closes the external air intake if it detects increased levels of pollution in the outside air.
More than 9,000 electric taxis will be replacing the old diesel cabs by 2021 - that is around half the current fleet.
London currently has 57 charging points for these cabs and it take 35 minutes to fully charge these taxis. London Electric Vehicle Company plans to install 1000 more such charging points.
The company is looking beyond London. They plan to roll out 225 vehicles in Amsterdam as part of a transport service for the elderly and disabled. A second European location is in the pipeline, Gubbey added.
The company, formerly known as the London Taxi Company, expects to sell 10,000 vehicles a year by the turn of the decade, half of them outside Britain.