The iconic black taxis that are synonymous with the streets of London, England are poised to undergo a transition that will prove beneficial to the city and the world. Boris Johnson, London’s mayor, has put plans in motion for the city to adopt a ‘zero emissions’ policy over the next few years. And to that end, the black taxi will be a major part of that environmentally friendly strategy.
The London Taxi Company is set to create a brand new taxicab that will be committed to ‘going green’ thanks in part to a hefty financial infusion provided by Geely, their parent company based in China. The investment is estimated at a little over US$37 million dollars, and will be directly implemented into the LTI’s Coventry factory.
The factory, which has been in use since 1948, is now undergoing a total revamping process to make it a state-of-the-art factory complex. In addition to the building modification, there will be a sharp increase in vehicle production estimated at 36,000 cabs yearly to go along with 1,000 more jobs to be added. The centerpiece of it all will be the newest cab; the vehicle will be constructed as an electric hybrid. The new black taxis are slated to roll off of the production line in September 2017.
It was a bit of welcome news for the mayor, who’s zero emissions plan for London is earmarked to take effect in 2018. A study that found London to contain all of the 50 most hazardous spots in terms of air pollution in the country last month led to the charge for change. LTI has also made remarks suggesting that they are looking to export the newer black taxis for consumers in 2018. The new black taxis initiative is coupled with government funding for current drivers to convert their vehicles for low emissions as well as funding for local authorities to encourage low emission vehicle usage across the United Kingdom. There are questions as to how effective these moves will be, with eyes specifically on the newly proposed tax of US$18.95 for any vehicles that are deemed to add to the pollution that will take effect five years from now. This tax, part of plans to make central London an “ultra low emission zone”, would be added to the congestion tax already in place. There is also some concern that electric charging facilities need to be multiplied throughout London itself to make a significant impact.