Electric cars make a lot of sense for use as taxis.

Taxis are typically driven in cities, where air pollution is often a problem. They tend to do frequent short runs punctuated by stops. And passengers tend to like a smoother, quieter taxi ride.

London taxi firm eConnect Cars has realized all these factors, setting up an all-electric taxi fleet of Nissan Leafs.

Seven cars are currently on the fleet, and another fourteen are joining soon--one of just a handful of companies offering such a service.

A proliferation of diesel-powered cars, taxis and buses has put some of London's streets among the worst in Europe for pollution--so the importance of electric taxis, with their zero local emissions, cannot be understated.

eConnect Cars is based in Canary Wharf, the heart of London's business district. As a private hire firm it's not operating among London's "Hackney Carriage" taxis, but providing commuters and businessmen with an alternative, cleaner way of getting about the city--and several clients are already on-board.

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The firm has actually ordered various grades of Leafs, providing clients with different options depending on their budget. Those after more exclusivity can choose a top-end Leaf with leather seating, but those on a budget can opt for Visia-grade models--equivalent to 'S' trim in the U.S.

The Leaf could be a shrewd move by eConnect Cars, too, as London begins to clamp down on pollution-producing vehicles.

The city's congestion charge scheme, subjecting cars generating more than 75 g/km to a $20 daily fee, is expected to push more drivers into plug-in vehicles. London Mayor Boris Johnson has also set a target that taxis must be capable of running zero-emissions by 2018.

Firms that don't adopt early--or adapt before 2018--could find themselves struggling. And increasingly pollution-conscious clients may push up demand for zero-emission taxis themselves.

Could electric vehicles finally help London lose its nickname, "the big smoke"?...


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