Japanese maker Nissan has unveiled the design for a new black cab, which will hit the streets of London next spring. The model, a Nissan NV200, is the same one currently used as official taxi in both New York and Tokyo. The first production model was signed off just last week: it will compete against the traditional London Taxi Company TX4 and the Mercedes Vito, introduced in 2008.
Nissan executive vice president Andy Palmer described the concept behind the new cab model as "Something iconic. Boris Johnson said it needs to deliver an image of a bowler hat, and I think it does that." The taxi was designed with an input from the Licensed Taxi Drivers' Association, so design is modern but faithful to the tradition - something that's expected from both londoners and tourists visiting the city. Just to name a few, The Duke of Edinburgh has one, as does actor-playwright Stephen Fry and supermodel Kate Moss.
The cab will sport a diesel engine but tests for an electric powered model are planned for 2013 with gradual delivery according to the fast-charging infrastructure development schedule. Running costs are decidedly lower for electric vehicles, but charging times are still a problem to be solved for cars with special requirements like private hires. To cover the average 120 daily miles, an NV200 would need two charges with a quick 30-minute charge during the day. Let's say an electric fleet would be a perfect branding and advertising move for the alternative fuel car industry, more than an immediate solution to the city's Air Quality strategy.