In a city famous for its black cabs, a green revolution is in preparation.
From 2018, all new London taxis will have to be able to operate without producing any carbon emissions.
It is part of Mayor Boris Johnson’s bid to tackle pollution in the city, while preserving the cab’s traditional shape.
After checking out three models of zero-emission taxi at a media event Johnson said they all preserved the essential look and feel of the classic “black cab”.
“The beauty of all three of the proposals that you see today is that they all keep that iconic bowler-hat shape of the London taxi, that wonderful rounded look of the London taxi,” he said.
Five manufacturers, including Nissan, Metrocab and London Taxi Company, have outlined details of the zero-emission models they are developing based on electric and hydrogen technologies.
Some of those vehicles are expected to be on London’s streets as soon as next year. London has already added 1,400 new charging stations to support electric taxis.
The mayor said the new low-emission taxi target could slash pollution and help Britain avoid hefty fines from the EU for failing to meet air quality standards.
It is not clear how London’s taxi drivers will reaction. One of them, Peter Bond, said it was fine in principle, provided the taxis were affordable.
“We’re sitting in it all day, right in the middle of the road, breathing in all these fumes, so if there’s less fumes, it’s good for us and good for society,” he said. The downside, he argued, is if the cost is prohibitive.
Black cabs fitted with diesel engines are blamed for creating nearly one third of harmful particulate matter in the most polluted parts of central London.