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London to get electric black cabs in 2014

What’s that? Oh, just the deafening silence of the new electric London taxi.

The classic London black cab will eventually be replaced by an electric alternative knows as the Range-Extended Electric Metrocab (REE, for short) if London Mayor Boris Johnson gets his way. 

Johnson took the zero emission taxi, which is the work of UK company Ecotive and technology partner Frazer-Nash Research, for a spin at City Hall’s underground car park to demonstrate “the Metrocab is ready for market”.

Trials of the new cab will begin in early 2014, with a small fleet of Metrocabs used. Unless something terrible goes wrong, it will then be rolled out across London and other cities around the world.

“The Metrocab is designed as the next-generation London taxi and represents a revolution in the market as the first electric-powered cab to meet the duty cycle of a London taxi, where cabbies typically drive many miles from outside the city – making pure electric cars impractical with current technology and infrastructure,” Metrocab chairman Sir Charles Masefield explained.

“Ready now, our range extended drivetrain technology offers the solution London and other world-class cities are looking for.  We are confident Metrocab will make a real impact in the market and provide a better service to cities, drivers and passengers alike.”

The Metrocab is powered by an electric motor and has a small range-extending petrol engine that kicks in to help with recharging when the juice gets low.

It’s hoped the new cab will make life quieter, cleaner and more comfortable for passengers in London. Cab drivers will also benefit from much lower fuel and tax bills as the cost of electricity to ‘fill her up’ will be much less than it would be using diesel or petrol.

Reports say the new cab will cost as much as the rival diesel TX-4 cab. Only time will tell if it proves to be as hardy.

Nissan has also expressed an interest in replacing the standard taxi with something of its own creation, the NV200.

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