News : New Metrocab to go zero on emissions

Carole Nash Classic Insurance Specialists

Andrew Elphick

Metrocab (9)

‘Designed, engineered and built in Britain,’ declared Frazer-Nash at the launch of its new taxi challenger, the Metrocab. The old Metrocab, you might recall, was a composite-clad rival to LTI’s venerable TX4, which, worthy-as-it-was, never quite managed to topple the king. However, this time around, the ambitious Frazer-Nash intends to change all that.

The new Metrocab is also composite-clad (carbonfibre on the prototypes) over an aluminum frame, but it has moved the game on considerably. The successor to LTI, the London Taxi Company, really needs to be looking over its shoulder at this young pretender as its new rival ups the ante on both the environmental and technological fronts.

In brief terms, it’s a Taxi with a twist – it’s known as a Range Extended Electric vehicle (REE). Its petrol engine has no mechanical connection to the driven wheels and acts purely as an electricity generator. Metrocab would not be drawn on the engine supplier, but confirmed its potential Euro VI credentials and an engine capacity of around 1.0-litres.

Metrocab (2)

The Metrocab’s engine charges the vehicle’s lithium-ion battery pack (stored under the passenger compartment floor), which has a stored capacity of 12.2kWh. That should give a real world (lights, heater, wipers, meter powered up) range of more than 50 miles (while a Nissan Leaf may double that, bear in mind that this is a purpose-built commercial vehicle that can carry seven passengers and its driver). This battery supplies a pair of 35kW DC brushless motors and an electric differential unit which power the rear wheels.

Mechanically, the Metrocab features a steering and suspension set up, which will apparently be ‘quite familiar’ to owners of existing vehicles, but with added air suspension. What might be unfamiliar is the regenerative braking system – when the vehicle is braking, or even rolling downhill, the brakes turn into generators and feed a trickle of charge back to the battery pack.

Enough of the technical aspects, what does it feel like on the road? Well, there’s only one way to find out so six of us – five bona fide badge-carrying cabbies and myself – all hop in for a ride. Yep, six of us – three flip up seats face the rear bench. So, with a combined weight that doesn’t bear thinking about, we set off – silently. My fellow passengers are rather surprised at the standing start, with a bottomless pit of torque available.

‘Quicker than my Vito,’ one passenger remarks, ‘rides well, too’. The ride, particularly over London’s rutted speed-bumped roads, is really rather exceptional – and squeak and rattle-free. My fellow fare-earning passengers note, though, that some niggles such as demisting issues and a weak PA system need further improvement.

Metrocab (7)

The comfort is rated as high, as is the spacious airy feel aided by the glazed roof – perfect for additional advert revenue, as a shrewd passenger noted. It gives a bird’s eye view if the capital, particularly as we cross through Tower Bridge.

Questions about London’s rudimentary charging system (and plug-in locations) need to be answered, but the quiet smile from Metrocab’s Gordon Dixon when AROnline asked him about induction loops sunk in the capitals highways might hint to the future – he assures us the Metrocab is more than equipped for induction charging technology…

‘Price it right and treat us fairly,’ seems to be the mantra at City Hall from the drivers – only time will tell if Metrocab has succeeded on that issue.

Metrocab (1)

10 Comments

  1. futuristic but still not a “jonny” cab aka original TOTAL RECALL!! looks good tho. not sure about the fake wood door cappings tho similar to the maestro vanden plas..

  2. Wheel arches are nt my cup of tea but overall, it looks good!
    Millions miles ahead of the really ugly Nissan failure. If it rides as good as Andrew wrote, it will be a winner.
    Metrocab must also concentrate as soon as possible on the possibiliy of massive exports of this cab.
    It will be great to use some in Paris where taxis are very bad in all aspects (dirty diesels, old Skodas, Mercedes…).

  3. I just hope the market can stand all the competition! Unless the cabs can be exported, the Cab market in London (or indeed the UK) is tiny in motor industry terms.

  4. Looks better than the ‘cottage-bun’ TX4.
    BTW ant80, the Maestro VDP door cappings were genuine walnut veneer – albeit on a plastic substrate.

  5. @2 ant80
    “futuristic but still not a “jonny” cab”….. made me laugh.

    Well done Frazer-Nash. A great looking vehicle and if they pull this off, a real game changer. If they can prove its reliable that is, then the TX4 could be in trouble….again.
    I wonder if it makes a noise when in motion, if it doesn’t it could be dangerous to pedestrians if they cant hear it coming.
    Be interesting to see if Frazer-Nash are putting this tech into Bristol cars.

  6. @5 hi ian i like the maestro vanden plas door capings, my sd1 vanden plas also has real walnut veneer door inserts they look wonderful as do the maestros none of your modern plastic faux stuff there oh no!!!

  7. Looks so much better in black and on the street, other images looked horrific.

    Please taxi drivers of London, steer away from the soul less Vito and Nissan.

    The above and the future LTi are proper cabs, designed rather than adapted for London.

  8. Looks good even in that yellow. Anyone know which engine it uses? Pity they haven’t been brave and used a rotary though. Still a good effort and they did rescue Bristol, for which I’m eternally grateful. H

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