March 9, 2017, 11:30 PM
With recent storms in the UK linked to climate change, London cabs must be not just sustainable but also ready for extremes in weather, which is the thinking that brought the new extended-range generation of London Taxi vehicles to the Arctic Circle in Norway.
The all-new electric black cab is due to start production in spring for a launch in the third quarter of this year, and London Taxi Company (LTC) owner Geely is investing in extensive testing to ensure the new vehicles not only perform on their home turf, but also in other parts of the world, should other regional fleets choose to use them.
Among the things being evaluated in the -15°C temperatures are the obvious things — battery performance and travel range — but equally important is the comfort levels for drivers and passengers (making sure that heating and ventilation don’t suffer adversely), and the level of grip, drivability and visibility at all seating positions.
“Our new taxi is being developed with two key engineering principles – quality and endurance to meet the needs of the demanding taxi duty cycle,” said LTC Quality Director Wolfram Liedtke. “We are now nearing the end of our development programme, and will soon commit the product to series production at our all-new manufacturing facility in Ansty, near Coventry.”
And because there’s more to the taxi experience than just vehicle performance, the drivers’ association is also on board for the testing to offer subjective feedback.
“It was truly amazing to witness the new London black cab being tested in such an extreme climate and performing so well,” enthused Steve McNamara, General Secretary at the Licensed Taxi Drivers Association. “This new clean modern 21st century vehicle will ensure that the world’s best cab drivers now have the best tool for the job.”
The next phase of testing will see the vehicles cooled in atmospheric wind tunnels to -49 to check their cold-starts and cabin heating performance. They will then travel to the other temperature extreme — extremely-high temperatures (though no location has been named).
“We understand drivers will want to be sure that our range extended electric vehicle technology works in all conditions which is why we’ve gone to such efforts to test in these extreme environments,” said Liedtke. “It will be, without doubt, the highest quality and resilient product in London Taxi’s history.”
“We really have put the new vehicle through its paces — the first dedicated and zero-emissions-capable taxi in the world to enter series production,” concludes London Taxi Company CEO Chris Gubbey. “Given these extremes of testing – both in hot and cold climates – we demonstrate that our vehicle will be a taxi for London and the world over, capable and at home in any city.”
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