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London's first electric black cab goes into service

By Angus McNeice in London | | Updated: 2018-01-24 03:37
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London cabbie David Harris says the TX electric taxi will save him hundreds of pounds a month. [Photo for China Daily]

The first electric black cab produced by the China-owned London Electric Vehicle Company has entered service in the United Kingdom's capital.

Taxi driver David Harris picked up the keys for the TX electric taxi on Monday and collected his first fare in the new hybrid model of London's iconic black cab.

The London Electric Vehicle Company, also known as LEVC, had hoped to deliver the TX to buyers earlier in the month but a meter fault stalled the roll out. A hardware update has since resolved the issue.

LEVC was rebranded from the London Taxi Company last year, when the enterprise unveiled the TX and began taking orders from cabbies.

Recent British legislation stipulates that all new London black cabs must be battery-powered from Jan 1, 2018. London's transport authority TfL anticipates that, by the end of 2020, 9,000 London taxis will be zero-emission-capable vehicles.

Chinese automaker Geely acquired LEVC in 2013 for 11 million pounds ($15.3 million) and has since invested 325 million pounds in the business, including a 300-million-pound factory in Coventry where the TX is made.

"It's a momentous day for LEVC and the TX," said LEVC chief executive Chris Gubbey. "It's the first of many clean-air, zero emission taxis that will be hitting the streets of London, and we are just as excited as David is. Hearing how this vehicle will impact his life, and the vast savings he will make month after month, is just fantastic."

The TX maintains the classic look of a London black cab but combines an electric powertrain and battery with a small petrol generator, giving the car a range of around 110 kilometers on pure electric and a combined range of more than 640 kilometers.

With a price tag of 55,600 pounds, the TX costs around 10,000 pounds more than a diesel model. However, LEVC estimates drivers of the new model will save between 500 and 600 pounds a month on fuel and servicing.

Drivers will be able to lease a TX for 177 pounds a week over five years, which is 10 pounds a week more than it costs to lease the diesel model.

The UK Licensed Taxi Association has praised the car's "state-of-the-art" design while also raising concerns about the higher cost, especially in light of the competition cabbies are facing from ride-hailing service Uber.

The association has also questioned whether London has sufficient charging infrastructure to serve a large fleet of electric cabs.

Harris said he doesn't have off-street parking so will not be able to charge his car at home. Instead, he will charge the car at a rapid charger unit at Heathrow on his daily visits to the airport.

"I can't wait to see the response from passengers," he said. "I know that they're going to love it. And I'm going to see some a significant savings on running the electric taxi."

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