Update: A glitch has halted the release of the first batch of zero-emissions black taxis being rolled out across London.
Despite reportedly receiving hundreds of orders, only one of the new plug-in taxis has been licenced. This is because a software glitch has pushed back the rollout «by several weeks» until the company and its suppliers fix the issue.
«The signal from the vehicles and the meters are not lining up and we are working on a solution to fix that issue. We’re working on getting an appropriate converter to get the vehicles licenced by [Transport for London] and over to customers,» said London’s EV Company, which builds the taxis.
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London’s new electric black cab
Unlike the previous taxi, the vehicle’s multi-filter system helps remove gases and particles from the incoming air while an in-built air quality sensor automatically closes the external air intake if it detects increased levels of pollution.
Elsewhere, the electric black cabs come with wheelchair accessibility, air conditioning, phone charging and a more spacious cabin with six seats, plus forward collision warnings, autonomous emergency breaking and emergency brake assistance.
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It was recently announced that the TX’s aluminium body is being manufactured at a plant in Wales that had previously shut down due to a lack of demand.
Norwegian company Sapa will provide lightweight aluminium from the factory in Bedwas, near Caerphilly, and the project will bring 130 jobs to the area. The idea is to use the aluminium to build lighter electric taxis by the end of this year.
Sapa will work with the London Taxi Company, a subsidiary of Chinese company Geely, to produce the next generation of iconic London vehicles.
Geely opened a factory in Coventry in March this year, after it announced in 2015 it will be helping London’s black cabs to go green with a vehicle called the TX. Its goal is to produce 10,000 vehicles a year, both for the UK and overseas, although it has the capacity for 20,000.
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Using aluminium means the cars can be up to 50% lighter compared to steel, which helps make them more efficient.
The aluminium factory in Bedwas was closed in 2014 because it didn’t have enough demand to meet its production capacity. It will cost £9.6 million ($13 million) to reopen, but the demand for electric vehicles is enough to drive this change, according to Sapa.
“This was the first plant we had to sacrifice, but it is also the first one to be reopened,” John Thuestad, Sapa’s head of extrusions for Europe, told Reuters. “The auto sector is only 15% of our (global) business, but it is currently driving the majority of our growth.»
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“Our plant is geared up to support the booming automotive industry in the UK and we see the trend absolutely continuing towards aluminium as a solution for their lightweighting challenges,” added Barnaby Struthers, Sapa’s business development manager in Britain.
By next year, London’s cabs will join the growing trend towards electric and hybrid vehicles, as all new cabs will have to have zero-emission capabilities.
Electric vehicles such as the Tesla Model S now represent viable choices for those in the car market. Under the government’s plans to improve air quality across the UK, the sale of petrol and diesel cars could be banned by 2040.