London's first licensed zero-emissions taxis hit the road
The first zero-emission taxi has been licensed by Transport for London to carry passengers around the UK's capital, with a fleet of the model currently being trialled on the road.
MetroCabs taxis have been specifically designed by Frazer-Nash Research and Ecotive to help London meet air quality targets. The electric-powered MetroCab produces 75% less CO2 than a comparable London taxi, but also has a completely zero-emission mode.
London Mayor Boris Johnson proposes to introduce an Ultra Low Emission Zone to the centre of London by 2020 to help reduce the city's high air pollution levels, and to enable it to comply with strict EU and UK pollution limits. Johnson described the MetroCab as "a masterpiece of British engineering - the Rolls-Royce of taxis that can do 100mpg."
The taxi has two electric motors and a lithium battery for zero-emission driving. Its range is extended by using its one-litre petrol engine to recharge the battery on the move, after as little as 10 minutes' driving. The taxi can also be charged via any mains electric outlet.
The MetroCab is three times as fuel-efficient as a comparable taxi, saving London's cabbies between £20 and £40 a day in running costs.
Metrocab chairman, Sir Charles Masefield, said: "The Metrocab has received numerous accolades and plaudits across the board in recent months, but now it is official - it is the first licensed range extended electric cab for London, and indeed the first in the world. We're very proud, and delighted with the Metrocabs' performance, economy and range at the hands of the first few London cabbies to be operating our range extended electric taxis."
As part of the ULEZ, Johnson plans for all single-deck buses in central London to be zero emission at tailpipe from 2020. Currently on trial in the city are six pure-electric single deck and four diesel extended range buses.
On Wednesday, edie reported on calls by the London Assembly Environment Committee to bring forward plans for the Ultra Low Emission Zone, but also recommended expanding the planned zone and enforcing stricter penalties and restrictions.