06 August 2012 by Lem Bingley
The low emission Nissan NV200 London Taxi will be on offer from next year, with an all-electric black cab edition to follow.
From the middle of 2013 some lucky Londoners may be surprised to hail a black cab without an engine, as Nissan will begin trials of a new zero emission taxi. The launch of the company’s e-NV200 London Taxi will begin with a test fleet of a hundred or so taxis next year, before the electric cab goes on general sale in 2014.
If embraced by London’s cabbies, an electric taxi might make a noticeable difference to London’s air quality, which ranks among the worst in Europe for harmful oxides of nitrogen and particulates produced by internal combustion engines. Taxis are thought to account for 20 per cent of soot emissions in the capital.
Before its electric cabs arrive in numbers, however, Nissan will enter the market for conventional diesel-powered black cabs. It has developed a London Taxi version of its NV200 light commercial vehicle that meets the unique requirements laid down by Transport for London, which include wheelchair accessibility and a 25-foot turning circle. The new cab is due to go on sale in 12 months’ time, priced from around £28,000.
The NV200’s 1.5-litre, 89bhp diesel engine will initially meet the Euro5 emissions standard and is expected to deliver combined-cycle fuel economy of 53mpg and 139g/km CO2 emissions.
With those figures, Nissan’s London taxi would significantly improve on the iconic traditional-shape black cab, the LTI TX4, which currently achieves no better than 35.3mpg and 209g/km. It would also beat the next-most popular alternative taxi, the Mercedes-Benz Vito, which currently scores 34.9mpg and 213g/km.
Across London’s current fleet of 22,000 black cabs, the difference in emissions between TX4 and NV200 would amount to 37,970 tonnes of CO2 per year, according to Nissan – equivalent in offsetting terms to planting a forest twice the size of London’s congestion zone.
In May 2011, Nissan succeeded in winning the contract to supply yellow cabs for New York City, and the newly unveiled black cab is clearly related to that car. However, the New York and London versions are noticeably different when parked side-by-side.
The yellow cab is about a foot longer than the 4.4m London version, for example, with a more prominent and stronger pillar between the front and rear compartments, required to meet US crash-safety tests. The black cab edition’s front wheels are also set about 20cm further apart and sit under prominent wheel-arches – a result of meeting turning circle requirements in the face of the NV200’s front-wheel drive layout. The Mercedes Vito, by contrast, employs driver-activated rear-wheel steering to squeeze its U-turn within the rules.
Both the black cab and yellow cab editions of Nissan’s new vehicle feature a large glass panel in the roof, to afford better views of the two cities’ famous skylines.
Both the diesel NV200 London Taxi and the e-NV200 electric version will be built in Barcelona and imported into the UK. Batteries and other drivetrain components for the electric version will be built in Nissan’s newly expanded Sunderland plant.
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