Wednesday, January 08, 2014

180 Years Of Purpose Built Taxis: A Pictorial History Of London's Iconic Taxicabs


The first Hackney carriage licences were issued for horse-drawn carriages in 1662. The hansom cab was patented in 1834 and was widely used until the introduction of motorised cabs in the early 20th century.


Two early Rational motor taxis (built by Heatly-Gresham Engineering) parked outside the Savoy Theatre in The Strand. Registration numbers on taxis show the photo was taken after 1904. The Rational, built by Heatly-Gresham Engineering of Letchworth, was the first taxi to afford some protection to the driver and to be fitted with doors.



A Knightsbridge motor taxi rank in 1907 with vehicles believed to be of Renault and/or Unic manufacture.


Taxis outside Paddington Underground station in Praed Street in 1932. 
(Hanging it up: something's never change)


The Austin London Taxicab, introduced in 1930, used a modified Austin Heavy 12/4 chassis.


An Austin LL (Low-Loader) taxicab, which was introduced in 1934. The rear portion of its roof could be folded down.

The Austin FX3 was introduced in 1949.


The Beardmore was an alternative taxi design used in London during the 1960s and 1970s


Winchester
In 1963, the Winchester MkI was the first taxicab to feature fibreglass bodywork. It was the brainchild of the managing director of Winchester Automobiles (West End) Ltd (a subsidiary of a specialist insurance group which had been formed in the late 1940s specifically to cater for the insurance needs of owner-drivers). 


The iconic FX4 London Taxicab. More than 75,000 FX4s were built between 1958-1997.


The Metrocab design was based on models and early work for the Beardmore Mark VIII by Metro-Cammell-Weymann in conjunction with the London General Cab Company.

MCW Metrocab

Introduced in 1987, this fibreglass-bodied cab was powered by a 2.5 litre- four cylinder Ford Transit direct injection diesel engine coupled to a Ford four-speed automatic or a five- speed manual gearbox. It was the first London cab to fully wheelchair accessible and to be licensed by the Public Carriage Office to carry four passengers.

Reliant Metrocab

Reliant bought the Metrocab from MCW in 1989, and moved the plant to Tamworth, Staffordshire.

Hooper Metrocab

When Reliant suffered financial trouble, Hooper bought Metrocab and began a steady programme of improvement. In late 1992 the Metrocab became the first London cab to be fitted with disc brakes as standard. Six- and seven seat versions followed. 


The popular FX4 was replaced in 1997 by the TX1, made by London Taxis International.


Series 11 and TTT Metrocab.

 The restyled Series II was introduced in 1997 and featured a great many detail improvements. In 2000 a turbocharged Toyota engine replaced the Ford in the TTT model.



The LTI TXII was produced between 2002 and 2006. Many TX type taxis have been modified for private use.


In 2006, LTI introduced the TX4. Following extensive problems including steering faults and engine fires, the company went into administration in 2913 and was rescued later the same year by China's Geely Motors. Geely intend to produce the next generation TX5 hybrid and are also looking at entering the Private Hire market.


Mercedes-Benz, launched its Vito Taxi in June 2008. Since the launch the vehicle has been plagued with trouble from the rear wheel steering. 


Nissan's new kid on the block, the controversial NV200, to be launched December 2014. 


The New Electric Metro from Frazer Nash: but will the trade buy a vehicle with limited range. Is this just another foolish folly from Mayor Boris Johnson to rank alongside the Cable Car and Barclay Bike scheme?















6 comments:

I'm Spartacus said...

MORE QUESTIONS THAN ANSWERS!!!!

The O2 launch of the Nissan was a bit of a non event.

No details of cost, agents, warranty or even on sale date.

Next up will be the Mayors publicity stunt next week at the glass testicle (aka City Hall) where the latest and greatest in electric cabs will be on show.

You can bet the same unanswered questions as at the Nissan launch will remain, to that list we can add infrastructure for charging points, range in real working conditions and the life and cost of a battery pack?

Without concrete answers to these questions and the continuation of the age limit ( the ultra low emissions zone is planned for 2020 ) along with the possibility of national PH standards, defining PFH etc. from the Law Commission is affecting the resale trading of existing cabs and much uncertainty.

Taxileaks will be there with roving reporters asking all the hard questions and not just looking to sell adverts or looking to fill space in trade org rags.

Anonymous said...

The Frazer Nash if it works will be a range extended hybrid so it is inaccurate to call it electric or say it has limited range since it will just run on petrol indefinitely (if you fill it up) like the Chevy Volt or any other ReX. That said genii capital of Lotus F1 infamy (shoestring budget, missed supplier payments etc...) don't instill massive confidence in creating hybrid taxi from scratch. If they get it going it will surely cost a lot given their lack of scale. Geelys TX5 might be backed by Volvo tech and Chinese money (maybe) but rumours of a 2018 launch date make it largely irrelevant. I would guess the Nissan is the only game in town going forward in terms of new taxis.

Boris or TfL may or may not hate the taxi trade but they have to sort out London air quality due to EU pressures. Since 2+ tonne diesel taxis are a stupid idea they may be forced to throw money at you (taxi drivers) despite themselves. Perhaps the increased congestion charge which must be reinvested into transport may be used to fund a scrappage scheme for taxis to upgrade to the Nissan. Perhaps there is a euro VI Vito coming in time as well. The timing of the Nissan launch and congestion charge increase seems coincidental although this may be too hopeful. Not sure why putting a new front clip with round headlights on an established van necessitates delaying sales by a year to December 2014 - the cooling can't be that complicated - so it smacks of some kind of strategic regulatory hold up...

Also there are many chargers in London the problem is there are few fast charging level 2 or dc chargers otherwise an EV should be a no brainer for taxi drivers. Common metric is 80% charge in 30 minutes. Can do this over lunch and 80% charge will get you 80 miles in any weather condition (judging by the LEAF range whose batteries are used in the eNV200). With fat passengers doing circuits up highgate hill - absolute worst 50-60 miles? The leaf batteries are scheduled for an upgrade in 2015 as well...(hence the launch date of electric nv200 London taxi?)

If you go to heathrow you can recharge at the airport (one assumes they would install chargers at critical locations like this. Big if but remember it is in TfLs interests to push this and chargers cost very little in grand scheme of things). Even in winter with defrosters on -the usual refrain on this site - I don't think range is an issue for taxis. Not as convenient as petrol pump sure but almost cost-free. Not sure why commenters on this site (taxi drivers?) seem to be so against the idea and keen to breathe diesel fumes all day. Everyone else can at least escape Central London, taxi drivers can't! The lack of moving parts and fluid maintenance, lower brake wear due to regen braking etc... are also positives

Battery life seems ok on old hybrids and early Nissan leafs outside of Arizona (fixed under warranty and since then sold with upgraded battery tech).

If you're going to be scared of the future I'd worry about autonomous cars, not emissions regs and ULEZ in London! Autonomous cars will kill AddIson Lee as well so everyone is in the same boat if you look at the bigger picture.

Anonymous said...

The Frazer Nash if it works will be a range extended hybrid so it is inaccurate to call it electric or say it has limited range since it will just run on petrol indefinitely (if you fill it up) like the Chevy Volt or any other ReX. That said genii capital of Lotus F1 infamy (shoestring budget, missed supplier payments etc...) don't instill massive confidence in creating hybrid taxi from scratch. If they get it going it will surely cost a lot given their lack of scale. Geelys TX5 might be backed by Volvo tech and Chinese money (maybe) but rumours of a 2018 launch date make it largely irrelevant. I would guess the Nissan is the only game in town going forward in terms of new taxis.

Boris or TfL may or may not hate the taxi trade but they have to sort out London air quality due to EU pressures. Since 2+ tonne diesel taxis are a stupid idea they may be forced to throw money at you (taxi drivers) despite themselves. Perhaps the increased congestion charge which must be reinvested into transport may be used to fund a scrappage scheme for taxis to upgrade to the Nissan. Perhaps there is a euro VI Vito coming in time as well. The timing of the Nissan launch and congestion charge increase seems coincidental although this may be too hopeful. Not sure why putting a new front clip with round headlights on an established van necessitates delaying sales by a year to December 2014 - the cooling can't be that complicated - so it smacks of some kind of strategic regulatory hold up...

Also there are many chargers in London the problem is there are few fast charging level 2 or dc chargers otherwise an EV should be a no brainer for taxi drivers. Common metric is 80% charge in 30 minutes. Can do this over lunch and 80% charge will get you 80 miles in any weather condition (judging by the LEAF range whose batteries are used in the eNV200). With fat passengers doing circuits up highgate hill - absolute worst 50-60 miles? The leaf batteries are scheduled for an upgrade in 2015 as well...(hence the launch date of electric nv200 London taxi?)

If you go to heathrow you can recharge at the airport (one assumes they would install chargers at critical locations like this. Big if but remember it is in TfLs interests to push this and chargers cost very little in grand scheme of things). Even in winter with defrosters on -the usual refrain on this site - I don't think range is an issue for taxis. Not as convenient as petrol pump sure but almost cost-free. Not sure why commenters on this site (taxi drivers?) seem to be so against the idea and keen to breathe diesel fumes all day. Everyone else can at least escape Central London, taxi drivers can't! The lack of moving parts and fluid maintenance, lower brake wear due to regen braking etc... are also positives

Battery life seems ok on old hybrids and early Nissan leafs outside of Arizona (fixed under warranty and since then sold with upgraded battery tech).

If you're going to be scared of the future I'd worry about autonomous cars, not emissions regs and ULEZ in London! Autonomous cars will kill AddIson Lee as well so everyone is in the same boat if you look at the bigger picture.

I'm Spartacus said...

Anon.

I don't think anyone is scared, we had electric taxi's in the 1900's it's about having the infrastructure to go about what we do that matters.

We all recognise that the current TX and to some extent the Merc are not future proof and the ultra low emissions vehicles are the way forward! we like clean air too!

We have to pay the mortgage every month so we must have a robust solution, currently all we are getting is vague, uncosted, undated ideas.

We are as baffled as you are as to why the Nissan can't offer any launch date etc..

The London Taxi Trade employs directly and indirectly 30000 people and is a vital service, we can only plan with certainty.

Anonymous said...

How much will the new frazer Nash Metrocab be,?

Anonymous said...

can we have these posts on the city hall article Ed?