Nissan’s take on a London Cab
In the small town of London, ‘black cabs’ carry over 300,000 passengers each day and clock up over 368 million collective kilometres each year – it’s a massive industry that not only provides a much needed service to Londoners, but carries with it almost 360 years of history.
The Hackney Carriage, or ‘black cab’ as they’ve become more commonly known, was formally introduced to London in 1654 when parliament highlighted a need to regulate transporters in London, Westminster and the places thereabouts. The first hackney-carriage licences date from 1662 and applied to horse-drawn carriages.
With the advent of the internal combustion engine, motorised cars began replacing horse-drawn models in the early 1900’s, with the last horse-drawn carriage ceasing service in London in 1947.
Since then many manufacturers have tried their hand at producing their take on what is possibly the most iconic vehicle in history. The most well known is a series of purpose built vehicles by The London Taxi Company.
However this week Nissan has unveiled a bold new vision for the future of the London ‘black cab’ known as the NV200. Durable and reliable, Nissan’s London Taxi is based on the company’s multi-purpose NV200 compact van – a vehicle which has won many awards including International Van of The Year. Launched at end of 2009, the model has been introduced to 40 countries, selling over 100,000 units worldwide.
Taxi versions of the NV200 have already been unveiled in Tokyo and it has also been chosen as the exclusive New York City ‘Taxi of tomorrow’. However the London version comes with a few modifications, including a wider track to fit a new front suspension that gives the NV200 a turning circle of less than 7 metres.
In the States, the NV200 cab is powered by a four-cylinder petrol, but London’s version would use a 1.5-litre diesel motor capable of around 5.5 l/100km, more than 50 per cent more efficient than current models.
What’s more, the NV200 is ready to go electric. London’s mayor, Boris Johnson, recently announced his intention to have London’s taxis at zero emissions by 2020. Nissan think they can have it done far sooner – next year in fact they will start to trial all-electric NV200’s in the country’s capital in a move that could ultimately remove as much as 38,000 tonnes of CO2 from London’s smoggy air.
Who knows, maybe South Africa’s smoggy city (Jo’burg that is) will soon be home to a NV200 ‘Hi-Ace’ edition.
First published in Autodealer KZN