Few vehicles are more iconic than London's black cabs, but that doesn't mean they have to stay the same forever.
While the styling will remain recognizable, London taxis are about to get a significant overhaul--with help from a Chinese benefactor.
The London Taxi Company (LTC) unveiled its new model last week, and announced a major investment by its parent company Geely.
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Dubbed the TX5, the latest London taxi features a range-extended electric powertrain.
LTC did not provide any details on the powertrain, but says it was chosen to allow zero-emission operation without encouraging range anxiety.
The actual environmental benefit of the TX5 fleet will depend largely on how what proportion of mileage they cover on electricity--and accessibility to charging infrastructure.
Diesel taxis in London (Image by Flickr user Lars Ploughmann, used under CC license)
The TX5 was styled by Geely's studio in Barcelona, but retains much of the classic London taxi look.
Under the skin, though, LTC says the taxi has been entirely redesigned from the ground up.
It features an aluminum body structure with composite panels, with rear-opening passenger doors for easier access.
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Other notable features include a panoramic glass roof and onboard Wi-Fi.
The TX5 will be built at a new British factory being funded by a $77.2 million investment from Geely.
The plant in Ansty, Warwickshire, will also serve as Geely's U.K. R&D center.
Nissan e-NV200 Taxi for London
It's part of $386.1 million the Chinese company promises to invest in LTC.
The TX5 isn't the only extended-range electric taxi set to roam London's streets.
Frazer-Nash's Metrocab its own extended-range model, with a 1.0-liter gasoline engine and electric motor, fed by a 12.2-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack.
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Nissan has also pitched its e-NV200 all-electric van as a replacement for the current London cab.
A gasoline-engined version of this van is being phased in as New York's new standard taxi, and for London service Nissan even restyled the front end to resemble more traditional cabs.
As concerns over air pollution grow, politicians have put more emphasis on reducing emissions from internal-combustion vehicles in the British capital.
Last year, Major Boris Johnson set a goal of making all London taxis zero-emission capable by 2018.