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London's 300 000 daily black cab users will have a new taxi to ride in from 2013 after Japanese carmaker Nissan on Monday unveiled its vision for the capital's black cab of the future.
Nissan says its vehicle - based on the multi-purpose NV200 compact van - is up to 50 percent more fuel-efficient than London's existing black cabs, and cuts carbon dioxide emissions in half, in line with London mayor Boris Johnson's plans to improve the capital's air quality.
Due to go on sale next year, the London Taxi version of the NV200, which is essentially the same van-based vehicle announced last year as New York's next city taxi, is powered by an 81kW, 1.5-litre dCi HP EuroV turbodiesel with a six-speed manual gearbox
It’s rated at 5.3 litres per 100km on a combined cycle - an almost 50 percent fuel saving over the TX4 with its combined cycle figure of 8.1 litres per 100km.
That could save the average London cab driver up to £1000 (R12 700) a year in fuel costs, according to Nissan.
Transport for London estimates there are about 22 000 black cabs on London's streets.
The NV200 London Taxi seats five adults - three on a rear bench with two on rear-facing, fold-down seats. The front passenger seat has been removed to create space for luggage.
The taxi's sliding passenger doors are also much safer for pedestrians, cyclists and other vehicles because they do not swing out to create a potential obstruction.
Steve McNamara, general secretary of the Licensed Taxi Drivers' Association, said: “From what I've seen of the NV200 London Taxi, it ticks all the right boxes. It's important that it looks like a cab, is comfortable with good ingress and egress and is reliable,” said .
“If the fuel consumption figures are as promised, it will be a big seller.”
The new vehicle will compete with the classic LTI taxi and a new Mercedes black cab. It’s expected to be competitively priced below the new TX4 - the London Taxi Company's current model - and will be available through a designated 'specialist' Nissan dealer.
Nissan, which expects the NV200 to receive full London Taxi certification later this year, said an all-electric version of the car would undergo trials in London in 2013.
Nissan previously supplied the 2.7-litre TD27 diesel engine for the iconic 1989 FX4 Fairway taxi and its successor, the TX1.
Nissan UK executive vice president Andy Palmer said: “The 'black cab' is as much a part of the London landscape as Big Ben.
“The NV200 is a great step forward for providing a transport solution that is good for both its users and other city inhabitants.” - Reuters