The city of London, England is set to have its first all-electric taxi fleet from the second quarter of 2013.
Taxi company greentomatocars and Chinese carmaker BYD have signed a Memorandum of Understanding that will see greentomato cars running a fleet of 50 BYD e6 electric crossovers.
greentomatocars is London's second-largest quality minicab service and was previously known for its fleet of Toyota Prius hybrids.
Starting with only five cars in 2006, the business built up to where it is today and greentomatocars managing director Jonny Goldstone says they played a major role in popularizing the Prius in London.
"We see strong parallels between the e6 of today and the then-unfasionable Prius of 2006," he said in a press release, "We'd love to 'do a Prius' with the e6 and help propel electric vehicles into the automotive mainstream."
Already in use as taxis in China and elsewhere, the e6 is seen as ideally suited for private hire minicab use, with plenty of space for passengers and a large trunk. An iron phosphate battery provides up to 186 miles on a charge, and will take more than 4,000 charging cycles, important for vehicles that will need charging every night.
Top speed is a London-suitable 87 mph and the attraction of zero local emissions is strong in London, which is often considered one of the more traffic-polluted big cities in Europe.
While nothing special to drive--nor look at--and the harsh ride we wrote about in our first drive may need to be addressed before it hits London's streets, but the peppy acceleration should be more than up to the task of taking on the city's traditional black cabs.
Mayor of London Boris Johnson is keen to increase the number of zero-emission vehicles in the city, and said "It is my aim that London's minicabs and taxis will be zero-emission by 2020, which will have a major impact on air quality."
He added, "It is great that greentomatocars has committed to operating 50 of these super clean machines from next year."
Meanwhile, there is no further news on when the BYD e6 might arrive on U.S. shores, depsite suggestions from the company that it will.
Current best estimate is 2013, when the car will first be available to fleets before going on general sale.