London’s relationship with Electric Taxis has not just come about as recently as you might think. On 19th August 1897 a new taxi made its way onto the street of London. What made this different to any other taxi already on the road was the fact that it was powered by an electric motor taking power from an on board battery.
Designed by Walter C Bersey, it made its debut in the South Kensington Motor Show in 1896. Each taxi was licensed under Scotland Yard with certain conditions, a couple of which were, it must be able to turn in a small space and to be able to climb the steepest hill in London, which was Savoy Hill just off the Strand.
It became known as the “Hummingbird” because of the hum from the electric motor. At first it attracted quite a bit of interest, but unfortunately, due to frequently breaking down and the inadequate tyres wearing quickly under the 2 ton weight, they soon became obsolete with the faster horse drawn Hansom Cab that was already well established.
The basic technology and principle has not changed much in 120 years to where we are today, but with better built technology and much lighter materials, as well as advancements in battery technology, we now find ourselves at a point where electric taxis are back on the streets of London.
With ever increasing traffic and pollution levels rising in London, the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson (at the time in 2014), announced that all brand new taxis being licensed by TFL had to be Ultra Low Emission Capable (ULEC) from 1st January 2018. This prompted the main taxi manufacturer at the time, London Taxi International (LTI), and other prospecting manufacturers to throw themselves into designing and building from the ground up a brand new taxi for the future.
With others in the pipeline, the one Taxi that is now on the streets of London is that from LTI, which is now known as London EV Company (LEVC).
After being given one for 3 days to test drive, and also to meet with certain MP’s to promote charge points within London Boroughs, I can tell you it’s an extremely comfortable ride. It is very smooth with its low centre of gravity, as the batteries are in the floor space. Also with its very spacious passenger compartment, which comfortably seats 6 adults, it has various USB charge points in the back and more importantly for us guides, it has a panoramic glass roof to see up into this great city of ours.
With a battery range of 70 miles, it comes with a small petrol engine which extends its range to 400 miles. It would therefore be no problem to visit Stonehenge, Bath and Laycock all in one day, with the economical petrol engine for the motorway and the zero polluting electric motor for the towns and villages of Great Britain.
After being voted the best Taxi Drivers in the World for 10 years running, we now by far, have the very best vehicle which is at the forefront of our technology.
There are deals in the pipeline to sell these to other cities around the world, with the owners; Geely, the multi billion dollar company which owns various other companies such as Volvo and Lotus to name a couple.
We at BTTL, are very proud to say that one of our experienced Guides, Barry, has one of these vehicles that will become the iconic Taxi of the future, so if you want to guarantee yourself a tour in one just request one of Barry’s fantastic tours.
Blog By Frank