The iconic London taxi is having a makeover in 2017, with a new, hybrid black cab due to be rolled out across the capital city later in the year.
The black cab is as familiar a symbol of London as the double decker bus and the London Eye. It has appeared in countless films, and at the end of the twentieth century was listed as a Millennium Product, an award honouring British design and innovation.
Now, the London Taxi Company (LTC) has opened a new plant in Coventry to manufacture the new TX5 model, an updated version of the design featuring a hybrid drive train to reduce emissions and extend range. This more environmentally friendly model will be an insurance policy for LTC as Transport for London introduces new emissions policies.
The £300 million factory will create more than 1,000 jobs, and represents a significant boost for the UK motor trade. It is the first new car manufacturing plant to open in the country for more than ten years. As well as creating the new cab, the plant will be used for research into electric propulsion and lightweight vehicle shells.
The TX5 has been carefully designed to blend the sixty year heritage of the London black cab with modern style and technology. The iconic appearance will remain in the shape and lines of the cab. The interior will be spacious, offering panoramic views of the city, and the cab will be wheelchair friendly. The famously tight turning circle, originally evolved to cope with the roundabout at the entrance to the Savoy Hotel, will be retained.
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London’s taxi drivers are only granted a licence after passing The Knowledge, a test demonstrating their familiarity with London’s complicated map, and they buy or lease their own vehicle. Thanks to government subsidies for low emissions vehicles, the TX5 will not cost more to lease or buy than previous black cab models.
The previous model of London cab, the TX4, will be phased out as the hybrid TX5 hits the streets. To celebrate its history of service, LTC has commissioned a special Last of Line Edition of the TX4, created by automotive designers Khan Design. The limited edition vehicle is a larger and more luxurious version of the black cab, with a design blending classic and modern elements.
The new model will be seen on London’s roads, battling it out among new and used cars, bicycles, buses and mopeds, by the end of 2017. It is hoped that 50% of London taxis will be TX5s by 2020, and that the model will also sell across the UK and in Europe. Look out for the TX5 undergoing testing on trade plates soon.