LEVC’s electric taxi revolution is continuing apace
With more than 1000 TX taxis already operating in the UK, 2019 looks an even bigger year for the Coventry firm
London’s black cab drivers have seen more change to their industry in the last five years than, potentially, in the last 50.
The threat to their business model from on-demand ridesharing services is substantial, and new Transport for London legislation this year means that every new taxi sold must be capable of at least 30 miles of zero-emissions driving.
The London Taxi Company responded as rapidly as it could, changing its name to the London Electric Vehicle Company (LEVC) and, with the financial might of Geely ownership, bringing to market the TX range-extending electrified cab.
Late in January this year, the first example found a home, and LEVC claimed it had 200 orders in the pipeline. As the year comes to an end, I caught up with CEO Chris Gubbey to see how things have progressed.
Gubbey claims the year has been a positive one, noting the product has been “extremely well received” by drivers and passengers alike. There are now more than 1000 examples operating in the UK, which combined have racked up seven million miles to date. In fact, the biggest problem has been meeting demand.
“On production targets, it was harder to ramp up than we were expecting,” he says. “It’s the combination of a brand new, more complex product, a brand new facility and new manufacturing processes that have put a lot of tension in the system”.
Despite this, LEVC is now at a stage where it can churn out 6000 examples annually on a single production shift. And it should need this – with a number of clean air zones being established in cities such as Manchester, Glasgow and Birmingham in 2019, demand is expected to increase exponentially.
The firm claims that air quality in London has been positively affected, with quoted stats including 8600 tonnes less CO2 emitted from the taxi sector than 2017, and 1.9 billion mg less NOx. It also notes that “most drivers” are saving around £110 a week in fuel savings. Of course, all of that depends on drivers regularly plugging in.
Gubbey admits that the infrastructure will “likely lag behind demand” for the foreseeable future but states that dedicated taxi charging points have been set up in London, Nottingham, Oxford and Coventry.
And has demand extended to Europe? Well, it’s early stages, with LEVC having just secured a licence to retail the TX in France. But the cabs are operating in the Netherlands, Norway and Germany, with the latter supported greatly by mobility operator Ioki. The TX was chosen to head their Hamburg-based ride-sharing scheme, and the taxis there (pictured above) have carried 70,000 passengers to date.
What’s perhaps surprising is that the planned TX van, using the same chassis and powertrain as the taxi, will only enter the early trial stage next year. It seems like an essential extension of the brand, given the enormous increase in commercial traffic in Britain’s cities. We’ve been told to “watch this space” with that one, so expect further developments early next year.
Source: Autocar Online