News : Black cabs to hail from Coventry again
The recently re-branded, and now Chinese-owned, London Taxi Company (LTC) has opened a new factory in the UK to build the brand-new, plug-in hybrid (PHEV) LTC TX5. The factory in Ansty, near Coventry, is the UK’s first dedicated electric vehicle manufacturing facility, according to its owner.
London Taxi Company’s owner Geely has spent more than £300 million on the factory and the new Black Cab, and has promised that it will create around 1000 new jobs at the facility. The new range-extender TX5 will go into production at the plant and on sale in the UK later in 2017 before being marketed globally early in 2018.
The factory will have the capacity to build up to 20,000 vehicles a year and will also become a research and development hub for lightweight aluminium body structures and future electric vehicle powertrains.
What will your new Black Cab look like?
Judging by the pictures which have been released, reassuringly familiar. It might well be the ‘the world’s first purpose-built, mass-market electric taxi’ but it’s been styled with more than a nod to traditional taxis, which will please London’s tourism sector no end.
It was styled at Geely’s Design Studio in Barcelona by Peter Horbury, David Ancona and their team, and uses composite body panels over an aluminium structure. It is an efficient design, with low kerb weight being a priority in order to keep down running costs. It will go head-to-head with the latest Metrocab tested by AROnline in 2014, and will be powered by a similar battery electric powertrain with a range-extending internal-combustion engine – although full details of the new TX5’s drivetrain are yet to be revealed.
The rear doors are rear-hinged, and six passengers can be carried in the rear, which remains accessible to wheelchair users. Fare payers will be treated to 21st-Century conveniences, such as on-board Wi-Fi, USB charge points and an all-glass panoramic roof. The driver’s compartment is improved as well: it’s bigger, brighter and blessed with improved ergonomics – often overlooked in the pursuit of the maximum passenger space.
Does LTC have plans for any additional models?
LTC’s Research and Development Team, which currently has around 200 members, has also been developing a dedicated, range-extended electric light commercial van (LCV). The company says that the LCV will use the same platform as the TX5 and plans to bring the additional model to market through an incremental additional investment of around £30m – that will take the total investment from parent company Geely to £325 million.
Chris Gubbey, LTC’s CEO, said: ‘This is going to be the future proofed “white van” that people have been waiting for. Designed solely for the urban commercial sector, dedicated to the people who keep our cities working, it will be clean, competitive and ready for cities of the future.’