Technically, London Taxi Company isn’t a London or even a UK company — it’s owned by Chinese company Geely (which also owned Volvo). Without eliminating the iconic look of London’s taxis, which made me feel like I was in a different era when I visited London a few years ago, London Taxi Company has modernized them by inserting a plug-in hybrid drivetrain.
Naturally, this helps keep the air in London a bit cleaner, and it’s also increasingly critical as London puts “congestion charges” on non-electric cars in the city. The big doors and loads of interior space for hauling passengers around the metro area remain.
If they are so popular in London, why not bring to other cities, especially ones that are implementing similar charges or even bans on polluting gas and diesel cars? And why not for “ridesharing” companies like Uber and Lyft? Indeed, that’s London Taxi Company’s thinking.
“The company is looking at such cities as Barcelona, Oslo, Amsterdam, and Berlin. Last week, it took its new TX5 plug-in hybrid to Paris, where concerns about persistent smog are unusually high,” Steve Hanley writes over on Gas2. “Paris recently announced plans to ban cars built prior to 1997 from its roads during week days. Those cars account for only 10% of all vehicles in use in and around Paris, but are responsible for more than 40% of its transportation related carbon emissions. Many of them are diesels with rudimentary pollution controls. Diesels emit particulates and nitrous oxide, both of which are major components of smog.”
Peter Johansen, head of London Taxi Company, adds: “Most of the major cities in Europe have an air-pollution problem.” Sadly, that is an obvious fact, with several countries even over their legal limits as a result of this.
London Taxi Company isn’t the first EV manufacturer to penetrate the taxi and ridesharing market, of course. French taxi giant Taxis G7 and Uber now offer customers to choose electric or hybrid cars on their apps. Nissan has sold its fully electric LEAF and e-NV200 to taxi fleets around Europe, most recently via a large deal in Spain. Even Teslas are used for some fleets, such as a huge one in Amsterdam. Clean electric cars are a no-brainer for these fleets. Hopefully it won’t be long before everyone using a taxi is being chauffeured around in a smoothly gliding EV that doesn’t take days, months, or years off of their lives via cancer-causing and heart-destroying pollutants.