Constant growth and development within the national and international taxi industry is always taking place, whether its through automation, design, green policies, price or legal frameworks. The taxi industry in the UK is huge, especially within London where it is in the tune of nearly £1.2 billion per annum. There is a futuristic trend of black cabs towards going more green.
Frazer-Nash has started selling its electric Metrocab through Ecotive, catching up fast to its main competitor, LEVC whose electric vehicles commenced production earlier.
New UK legislation to reduce London’s Nitrogen Oxide emissions to zero by 2033 are encouraging manufacturers especially those supplying the 24k diesel black taxi’s to London to become compliant. This will not only meet legal requirements but promote the embracing of electric technology.
In 2014, the Transport for London (TfL) authority stated that in future all cab drivers will be required to utilise electrically driven automobiles, which meant the Metrocab, who had already launched its prototype vehicles, was strategically positioned to obtain maximum benefit of these new regulations. However, a legal lawsuit from LEVC (previously known as the London Taxi Company) had delayed Metrocab’s launch as they had stated intellectual copyright had been breached. Eventually, after two years in the courts and in October 2016 Frazer-Nash became free from the legal dispute. This delay took the time advantage away from Metrocab, even though they still believe their technology is superior to the LEVC.
Taxi prices for the Metrocab are in the price range £40000 – 50000, compared to £63000 for the LEVC. TfL subsidise new taxi car purchases by £7500 initially and a further £5000 if they trade in their old taxi cabs. LEVC is owned by the Chinese Group, Geely, who also own Volvo Cars, Lotus, and Daimler. LEVC, in addition to London has interest and orders from other European cities such as Amsterdam. Nissan and other auto companies also plan to launch electric taxi cabs in the coming years.
It is important for clients and drivers there is competition between the car manufacturers, as this will improve cost competitiveness, quality, enhanced technology features and improved health safety features.
Black cabs rigorous technical and legal requirements from authorities and legislators will help to enhance features such as:
- Wheelchair access and the 24ft turning circle
- Sufficient headroom
- Electric battery to drive the wheels
- Small three-cylinder petrol engine which recharges the battery for longer routes, whilst LEVC’s use a Volvo engine and technology for the electric motors
- Metrocab drives for 50 miles whilst the LEVC is 80 miles deemed to be enough for local city routes
- Both use the engine to recharge the battery and thereby enhance the longer journey routes to 400 miles
- Metrocab uses specially designed electronic differentials to turn the wheels from the motor (rather than mechanical differentials) which help to reduce energy loss
There are increased challenges to make electrically driven taxi cabs to scale with all the necessary features to meet requirements. Metrocab have initially outsourced their manufacturing to experienced suppliers – CAD CAM in Covetry, UK – who also produce for Jaguar Land Rover, and simultaneously it is building a new £100 million plant in partnership with Red Sun, the Chinese part owner of Cad Cam. LEVC, is also building a £235 million new manufacturing plant in Coventry too.
Metrocab aims to be the first popularly recognised zero emission, competitively priced taxi cab on UK streets. Metrocab is an electric automobile with an internal combustion engine (range extender) powering a matched generator, charging the battery pack and providing energy directly to the electric motors.
It is fully self-charging while in normal operation, but a Portable Electric Vehicle Supply Extension (EVSE) is also available for ‘home’ charging from a domestic mains socket.
A ‘Digital Differential’ eliminates the mechanical losses associated with conventional internal combustion and hybrid drive trains, giving improved motor control, traction and performance – with zero maintenance.
During its successful 25 months trial run on London streets, the performance met and exceeded expectations, producing ultra low carbon emissions, ultra Low NOx emissions emitted per cab and no harmful Particulate Matter (PM2.5, PM10) emitted. During the test trial run only 35% of the energy consumed was from the grid, with no public charging infrastructure being used (only the household charger).
Metrocab’s carbon emissions were found to be significantly lower, giving rise to cleaner cities and less pollution, in comparison to the modern diesel taxis, only emitting <50g/km CO2.
The Metrocab’s main features for operation include :
- Battery : the modular design of the Lithium-ion battery pack is matched by the battery management system which keeps the cells in optimum condition, ensuring a long operation life.
- Electric Motors : these combine control technology with permanent magnet motor design to achieve an efficiency of over 96%. Motor pairs are configured to drive the vehicle’s wheels independently, producing optimum torque and performance at all times.
- Range Extender : this is a compact internal combustion engine coupled to a matched generator. The electricity generated charges the battery pack and can also be diverted to power the electric motors.
- Vehicle Dimensions
- Overall length: 4,905mm
- Overall width: 1,800mm
- Overall height: 1,925mm
- Wheelbase: 3,181mm
- Vehicle Weight
- Overall length: 4,905mm
- Gross: 2,515kg
- Kerb: 1,750kg
- Top speed: 80mph (Restricted)
- Max gradient: 1:3
- Emissions: <50g/km CO2
- Turning circle: 62m
- Regenerative braking
- Peak motor power: 2 x 50kW
- Peak wheel torque: 2 x 1,400Nm
- Range Extender
- 1 litre petrol range-extender engine coupled to generator unit
- Fuel efficient urban and highway generating modes
- Meets Euro 6 emission standards
- Battery System
- Lithium-ion polymer large format cells
- Stored capacity: 2kWh
- 3kW on board charging
- Driver multi-function touch screen display and instrument cluster with colour display
- Passenger colour display
- USB charging socket
- Digital infotainment system
- Hands free telephone
- Air conditioning and heating
- Anti-lock braking system (ABS)
- 3-seater rear bench seat – fore/aft adjustable for more luggage space when required
- 3 rear facing flip down seats
- 1 optional front passenger seat
- Full wheelchair access with wheelchair ramp
- Panoramic glass roof
- Air suspension
Ecotive’s Metrocab electric vehicle, will enhance and improve air quality by reducing emissions normally associated with diesel cabs. It is London’s first licensed zero-emissions capable taxi, successfully tested over two years from 2014 over many thousands of miles and giving a 75% zero-emissions operation, improving air quality, reducing emissions, and delivering significant fuel savings to drivers.
These electric cars provide great environmental benefits to customers, drivers and wider public whilst being cost efficient over long periods. We can envisage future decades where constant competition, technology advancements and legal regulations would move society towards cleaner air emissions; fuel efficient, performing taxis and greater efficiency.