• A new electric black cab for London
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A new electric black cab for London

‘Iconic’ is a word that gets seriously over-used - these days everything from buildings to haircuts are given the label. But here at Big Motoring World we’re quite happy to use it for vehicle as legendary as the traditional black London cab - a car so distinctive that you could tell it from its outline alone. It’s been a fixture on London’s streets since the Austin FX4 was introduced in 1958, but its current version has been coming under increasing pressure to adapt to changing times.

A cab for our times

As more vehicles switch to hybrid powertrains, it became clear that the existing London black cab was in serious need of an update. And with new Transport For London (TFL) legislation from the start of next year that will demand that all new cabs must be ‘zero-emission capable’ to a range of at least 30 miles - the time was ripe for a new black cab for the capital. Enter the TX - a plug-in hybrid black cab, built by the Coventry-based firm London Electric Vehicle Company. The design is reminiscent of the classic black cab, but this time with an electric motor replacing the old diesel engine under the bonnet.

High performance

The TX should be able to run around 70 miles just using its battery before then switching to its petrol engine for another 400 miles. That should represent a substantial cut in emissions, with the average black cab racking up around 120 miles a day. There will be a significant investment in infrastructure too, with around 80 black cab-only charging points installed in time for the start of 2018. The plan is to increase this to 150 by the end of 2018, and to 300 by 2020.

Positive response

So, all in all this sounds like an exciting new chapter in the history of the black cab, not just for the capital’s travellers, but for fans of great design and technological innovation. But the most important question is this – what do London’s cabbies make of the new vehicle? LTC CEO Peter Johansen “The cabbies are very, very enthusiastic,” he said. "I talk to a number of them regularly and they can’t wait to have a new cab to take the green initiative."