London - Is This Your Next Taxi?

The traditional black cab is as much a part of London street furniture as Big Ben, Buckingham Palace and red buses, but it's made its impact on the city in other ways too.

For a start, if you've ever had a ride in the back of a black cab you've probably come across at least one driver who hates the things. They're noisy, uncomfortable and slow for the driver, and space aside they're not wonderful for passengers either.

Then there's the pollution they produce - even more recent LTI black cabs are far behind the cleanliness of modern diesel cars and they contribute to London's uneasy status as a city with some of the dirtiest air in Europe.

Nissan NV200 taxi fare

Mecedes-Benz is going some way to solve that problem with its new range of Vito taxis, with four-wheel steering to meet the age-old requirements for tight turning circles.

Taxis could be even cleaner though, if a vehicle like the one you see here is pressed into service in London.

carwow sources suggest that Nissan's eNV200, already already undergoing successful trials in panel van guise with British Gas, could be the electric taxi proposed by London mayor Boris Johnson.

Nissan eNV200 front

The vehicle is already well suited to taxi use, and in petrol form it's being pressed into service as New York City's 'taxi of tomorrow', designed to replace the Big Apple's own range of outdated Ford taxis.

To cope with the turning circle regulations, which require hackney carriages to turn in only 25 feet (8 metres), the eNV200's front track will be widened. This will give the wheels enough space to turn further.

The images you see here are of an existing taxi proposal from Nissan, using the regular NV200 van. The electric variant is near-identical from the outside, but significantly different under the skin.

Nissan eNV200 interior

The eNV200's powertrain is essentially identical to that of the Nissan Leaf electric car, now in production at Nissan's UK plant in Washington, near Sunderland.

That means a 24 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack, supplying juice to a 80 kilowatt (110 horsepower) electric motor.

Range for the new Washington-built Nissan Leaf is 120 miles, though with a heavier taxi body the eNV200's range should be shorter - unless Nissan fits a larger battery pack.

Nissan NV200 taxi cabin

Previous speculation suggests taxi ranks would be fitted with rapid chargers or even wireless charging systems, allowing the battery to be continually topped up whenever the driver stops - preventing any low range-related issues.

There's no official word yet on whether Nissan has got the electric taxi contract, but if it has, get used to hearing those cabbies tell you about how quiet and clean their new taxi is...

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