£300 Million Spent on London’s New Black Cab
The classic London taxi cab has undergone a £300 million makeover
The TX5 model has officially been announced this month in the run-up to its release in 2017.
While this new model represents a fairly modest re-imagining of an iconic design, the superficial alterations to the exterior styling mask a vehicle which is entirely different from its predecessors.
The cab will be built at a plant in Warwickshire which is owned and operated by Geely, the parent firm of long-time taxi-maker LTC. As well as being more practical, it is promised that the TX5 will also be better than the current cabs in terms of both fuel efficiency and safety.
Efficiency improvements are being achieved as a result of the fact that the TX5 is a hybrid car, eschewing the all-diesel origins of its older siblings. This means it has both a standard engine for long-range stints on the motorway as well as an electric motor and onboard battery set-up that will allow it to operate without emitting any harmful gasses.
The electric capability is especially relevant for use in the capital, as not only will it prevent cabs generating as much air pollution as before, but it will also mean that these machines are quieter and less disruptive.
The green credentials will also aid drivers and firms looking to acquire the TX5 when it goes on sale in two years' time, as its makers are asserting that with the help of green subsidies offered by the government, it will not be any more expensive to buy outright or secure on a finance deal than the TX4.
In terms of practicality for passengers, the rear of the TX5 will have room for six people to sit, which is an improvement compared with the five-seater cabs that are currently found on the streets of London. Project spokesperson David Ancona said that the reason for making this new model a six-seater was that existing cabs were facing stiff competition from people-carriers built by companies such as Mercedes, meaning that the TX5 will now be a better option for large groups as well as those heading to airports.
Safety is assured thanks to the five-star rating that the TX5 has been awarded in its official Euro NCAP test. And the exterior of the car does not diverge so far from the classic Hackney Carriage look to put off those who see it as iconic, which is good news for fans of the original as well as tourists looking for the authentic London experience.
Ancona promises that the new black cab will be able to operate for more than 100 miles on the power of its electric motor alone before the diesel engine kicks in and recharging is necessary. Given that taxis in the capital will spend much of their time stuck in traffic, this should be a real benefit.
But while the news of the TX5’s arrival as the clean, green and safe new face of taxi travel in the capital is undoubtedly positive, there are still threats to the traditional black cab which have yet to be resolved and which this new model may not be enough to assuage.
Chiefly, it is taxi app Uber which is changing the face of the industry at the moment. And with protests mounting and legal action being taken against it internationally, the pressure is increasing.
Earlier this month, the High Court in the UK confirmed the legality of Uber’s operations in London, which was a blow for black cab drivers and regulator TfL alike. Meanwhile, a rival taxi app offering price comparison is being developed with over £100 million in funding by various taxi groups in an attempt to gain back some of the emerging market, according to the Financial Times.
It seems that people who want to leave their car at home when they travel into London will have more choice than ever, not only in terms of the services they use but also the vehicles they get into.