Editor-in-chief | Cassandra Lau
In 2013, the black cab faced a not-so-happy spotlight on London’s front pages as the Manganese Bronze Holdings faced liquidation at the hands of advanced German automakers. Today, in less than five years, with the help of Geely’s large investment in the London Taxi Company, they resurface as the leaders of the UK government’s Road to Zero scheme.
The Chinese multinational automaker, Geely, has placed its mark on one of London’s most iconic features this summer by releasing 350 electric taxis in the United Kingdom – 300 of which are based in London. These eco-friendly vehicles are expected to:
- Save taxi owners £1.8m in fuel cost
- Reduce CO2 emissions from taxi sections by 2, 450 tonnes
- Contribute to the UK government’s Road to Zero scheme
The LEVC (London Electronic Vehicle Company) TX model is “instantly recognisable as a London cab”, but is a complete “clean sheet of paper” as it does not share any old parts with the former petrol fuelled vehicle, says TX Development Manager of LEVC, Eddie Martin.
The TX attends to the needs of the environment, as well as the driver and the passenger with the following features:
- A panoramic sunroof for better natural lighting and views
- On-board wifi
- USB-charging ports
- 150W sockets
- A rear climate control panel
- Six seats
- Carriage doors
- A rotatable seat to provide easier access for wheelchair users
- More spacious front for the driver with ergonomically designed steering wheel
- An electrically adjustable and heatable seat
- Perform ‘the famous turning circle’ – the car’s ability to turn within 8.5 meters – with its unique twin axis steer
More like a portable office, the TX is an incredible upgrade which will hopefully provide Londoners with a luxurious alternative to Uber rides.
However, this vehicle’s 60 Kilowatt range extender does have a 1.5L petrol engine as it relies on a small amount of petrol for longer journeys. This does create pollution but far less than regular cars.
According to the GOV.UK news story published last month, the Government launched its Road to Zero Strategy to “lead the world in zero emission vehicle technology”. However, the government’s boast of leading the world sells short as China appears to have been at the front of eco-development and climate change for a while now.
- On 27 December 2017, China’s Silicon Valley, Shenzhen, of 12 million people announced its successful transition to 100 per cent electric buses – that is a total of 16, 359 electric buses. To put this into perspective, that is 224 times more electric buses than in London – only a shocking 0.76 per cent of all London buses are electric.
- Early this year, Taiyuan, China’s coal city, successfully replaced 8,000 petrol taxis with electronic vehicles in the span of a single year. Taiyuan’s city planners also promised to replace all its public buses with electric ones this year.
Not to mention that Geely began their project long before the government’s Road to Zero scheme as the zero emissions electric taxi has taken two and a half years to make.
On top of this, Yutong’s, China’s number one bus brand, partnership with Wakefield’s Pelican Engineering Group to produce a zero-emissions and full electric bus, the E10, once again displays the UK’s lacking initiative to lead on a global scale.
In Theresa May’s Lancaster House speech, she stated her rejection of “anything that leaves us half-in, half-out” of the European Union; however, the country seems to be jumping out of the EU’s laps in the name of independence only to jump into the laps of the Chinese.
This seems apparent in Jin Xu’s, the minister counsellor of the economic and commercial office at the Chinese embassy in London, statement, “The launch of the new E10 bus has demonstrated the great capabilities of Chinese technology and the ‘Made in China’ brand in tapping into the British market […] It is a successful example of Chinese businesses embracing the going global strategy.”
This begs to question the government’s justifications for Brexit and strength on an international scale. Looking from afar – considering the fall of the London Taxi Company in the face of advanced German mobiles, only to resurface with the helping hand of the Chinese automaker giant – to what extent can the UK compete on an international level independently?