Plug-in hybrid London taxi plant opens in U.K., owned by Chinese firm Geely


London Taxi Company TX5

London Taxi Company TX5

Enlarge Photo

Few vehicles are as iconic as the London black cab, known the world over for its upright shape and ubiquity (although many of them aren't black any more).

But under the stewardship of Chinese automaker Geely, the black cab is about to get a green makeover.

The London Taxi Company recently completed a U.K. factory that will build a new version of the taxi with a plug-in hybrid powertrain.

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Located in Ansty Park in Coventry, the plant cost £300 million ($373 million), and will create more than 1,000 new jobs, according to the BBC.

The new plant will be devoted entirely to production of the new plug-in hybrid taxi—called the TX5.

Taxis are expected to begin rolling off its assembly line before the end of the year, with production scheduled to ramp up fully in 2018.

London Taxi Company factory

London Taxi Company factory

Enlarge Photo

LTC plans to retain its current factory as a paint shop after the last TX4 diesel taxis are built this summer.

It will also use the Ansty Park factory site to house research and development facilities. The company had previously indicated interest in other types of electrified commercial vehicles, as a way to increase its potential market.

Formerly known as London Taxis International, the company was in dire financial straits in 2013 when it was bought by Geely.

ALSO SEE: London's black cabs go plug-in hybrid; maker Geely issues bonds to fund work (May 2016)

The Chinese automaker—which also owns Volvo—quickly announced plans for a new taxi with a plug-in powertrain, and began investing in both the development of that vehicle and the new U.K. factory.

The TX5 was designed at Geely's studio in Barcelona, and more or less retains the traditional look of a London taxi.

But it features a new aluminum body structure and a plug-in hybrid powertrain that LTC says will provide significant electric-only range.

London Taxi Company factory

London Taxi Company factory

Enlarge Photo

However, utilization of that electric range depends largely on the creation of public charging infrastructure in London and the international cities where LTC also plans to market the TX5.

Without regular charging, the taxis' environmental benefits will decrease as they cover fewer miles on electric power.

MORE: Ford to test plug-in hybrid Transit Custom van in London

In November, the U.K. government announced that it would spend £80 million on charging infrastructure, as well as £150 million to subsidize the purchase of new electrified taxis and buses.

London also recently moved to increase fees on older diesel cars driving into its city center, in response to increased air pollution.

[EDITOR'S NOTE: Green Car Reports thanks our tipster, who prefers to remain an International Man of Mystery.]

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