Latest hybrid 'TX' London Taxi Selling at £55,599

The London Electric Vehicle Company (LEVC) has announced pricing details of its all-new TX hybrid London Taxi. The plug-in replacement for the TX4 is available to buy outright for £55,599, while a business lease can be had from £177 a week.
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The five-year lease deal - expected to be the way the vast majority of customers will pay for theirs - also includes the cost of the battery for that period. The outgoing TX4 was £167 a week over a four-year deal, although LEVC claims cabbies in regular use will save up to £100 a week on fuel thanks to the TX's 70 mile electric range.

The Coventry-based manufacturer, previously called the London Taxi Company, will change its name to the London EV Company (or LEVC) in September to reflect its growing ambitions to produce vehicles of all different shapes and applications.

The TX, designed in Barcelona by parent company Geely and using Volvo technology, is available to order now. The first roadgoing models will be trialled in London in October LEVC's CEO Chris Cubbey has revealed that it has already taken a major international order, with 225 examples of the TX set to be imported to the Netherlands.

Recently, the new TX has been through extreme weather testing in Arizona. The mules are covering around 300 miles a day in these conditions – the equivalent of driving from central London to Heathrow airport 20 times, and around three times as many miles as the average London cabbie notches up in a day.

The London EV Company will operate from a Coventry based manufacturing facility dedicated to the production of next generation black cabs – the first new car factory in the UK for over a decade.

LEVC’s Chinese parent firm Geely has invested £325m in the new plant, which is the UK’s first car factory dedicated to building electric vehicles only. The new range-extender TX taxi will be built at the plant from later this year and exported globally, creating more than 1,000 new jobs in the UK’s automotive industry.

The site has the capacity to build up to 20,000 vehicles a year. New TX cabs built here will be offered worldwide next year in order to ramp up production to a profitable point.

In addition to building the new taxi, the site will also become a research and development hub for lightweight aluminium body structures and future electric vehicle powertrains. A commercial vehicle version of the TX's platform will be produced later in 2018.

TX - the new London taxi: engineering and investment
We've seen a number of pre-production prototypes in pictures, but these latest images show the finished TX ready to roll out to customers.

The London taxi is completely redesigned from the ground up, including a new platform architecture and a state-of-the-art plug-in powertrain. It uses a Volvo-developed 1.3 litre three-cylinder petrol engine as a generator for a large battery pack and electric motors – allowing a pure-EV range of over 70 miles but a total range of over 400 miles.

Bosses estimate that the average London cabbie covering 120 miles in a day could save around £100 a week on fuel. That's based on the driver charging his cab at the start of the day and running it flat, although 300 fast chargers (boosting it up to 80 per cent charge in around 30 minutes) for the taxis are set to be installed in London by the end of 2018 to boost the savings further.

The London Taxi Company was bought out by Chinese carmaker Geely back in 2012 and a large investment of £275m has been made with the aim of bringing a petrol-electric taxi to market before Transport for London brings in new emissions legislation. Auto Express has spoken to LEVC’s CEO, Chris Gubbey, who revealed discussions are underway with a number of European cities.

“It is important that this is also rolled out across Europe, as there has been a considerable investment for this project”, Gubbey said.

“These will be very tough markets to get into, though – they are very nationalistic. But London as a city is not unique in wanting to improve local air quality”.

The high-tech new production facility (described as being “like something out of Formula 1” by bosses) has the capacity to build up to 36,000 units annually. Gubbey’s target is for 50 per cent of London’s black cab fleet to convert to the TX by 2020 – that’s fewer than 12,000 vehicles.

LEVC itself has doubled its research and development staff number – up to 600 – in the last year. Gubbey says that most of the engineering work for the TX is already done, and the staff are now in the process of “fine tuning” the production car.

Gubbey claims that LTC is also looking into using the TX5 platform for a commercial vehicle. He cites the public’s change in purchasing habits as being a “perfect opportunity” to launch a small petrol-electric van to meet the challenge of potential city centre diesel bans in future. 

TX: Evolutionary design and Volvo-inspired interior
The TX design concept captures the spirit of past generations of LTC models and draws on more than sixty years of style that has made the black cab an iconic sight on the streets of London. Senior vice president of Geely design, Peter Horbury, told Auto Express: “The brief was clear. It has to look like a London taxi.”

The new design uses a similarly vertical front grille and rounded headlights with LED running lights, while a wraparound glasshouse gives it the desired proportions. Horbury says its about "visually shortening the overhangs and using horizontal lines to visually lower it".

The interior, seen for the first time in new images, uses lot of design and technology elements from Volvo's passenger models. These include the large, portrait-style central touchscreen and digital instrument cluster. It even has a driver's seat lifted straight from the S90 executive saloon, which should improve comfort over previous taxis.

There's considerably more space for both driver and passenger, and separate air-conditioning controls for the rear seats. There's even WiFi available as an option for passengers to use. Rear-hinged doors open 90 degrees for easy access, too.

David Ancona, Design Director of Geely Barcelona said: “This decision [to offer six seats] was market driven. The [Mercedes] Vito was quite successful because it had that extra seat. It allowed three couples to go out together, or people to go to airports in groups. So it was decided to go that way.”

It makes use of a new lightweight aluminium structure and composite panelling, allowing the model to achieve a “full five-star Euro NCAP score” – according to Geely bosses.

As before, the new London taxi will use a front engine, rear-wheel drive layout, allowing it to boast the same market-leading tight turning circle. Despite its obvious associations with the outgoing TX4, Geely tells us all 2,000 components have been designed from the ground up.

The taxi isn’t due to hit the streets until later this year. Despite the higher specification and complex drivetrain, Ancona insists the TX won’t cost any more to buy or lease than the current model – thanks to government subsidies for low emission vehicles.