A new, electrified London taxi has been revealed – with its designers accepting that reinterpreting such an iconic design “is bound to prompt arguments”. Called the LEVCTX, it has been built and developed by the London Taxi Company, which has been renamed the London Electric Vehicle Company (LEVC) and is owned by Volvo’s Chinese parent, Geely. Design inspiration has come chiefly from the classic FX4 and TX4 black cab designs. “The biggest ‘gulp’ moment of my career was being asked to redesign the Volvo sports wagon – it was like taking care of the Swedish crown jewels – but this job is right up there,” said Geely’s executive vice president of design, Peter Horbury. “You know criticism will come on projects like that and this is in the same vein.
“The starting point was to meet the requirements of such a vehicle – the turning circle, powertrain, driver’s space and carrying capacity. In truth, what we were then left with was a square box. To get the shape we then required to meet our aesthetic goals was always going to be a challenge, but we pulled and pushed the engineers and gradually we were able to create a car that is a modern interpretation of what has gone before.”
The TX is powered by an advanced battery-electric powertrain with a 1.3-litre petrol generator, a system that its maker calls eCity. This range-extender technology gives the TX a driving range of more than 400 miles. The cab can be driven for more than 70 miles on electric power only. Full technical specifications will be revealed at a later date, but what is known is that the battery can be charged from empty to almost full in 20 minutes on a rapid charger, in two hours with a fast charger and in eight to 10 hours on a trickle charge.
The TX is made using aluminium bonding, which, LEVC says, reduces the weight of the car to the point that it offsets the weight of the battery while maintaining vehicle strength. The vehicle’s overall weight has not been disclosed, though. LEVC said the TX has a more premium feel inside than its predecessor, with less vibration and noise in the passenger area, plus charging points for mobile phones and wi-fi. There is seating for six passengers. A retractable integrated ramp makes access for passengers in wheelchairs quicker and easier. The rebranding to LEVC is motivated by the company’s desire to increase its sales beyond the UK and to expand its portfolio beyond taxis into light goods vehicles. TX sales begin on 1 August, London trials in October and deliveries by the end of 2017. No price has been revealed yet.