London’s mayor, Boris Johnson, is a character. He accused the rival Labour Party of "teaching homosexuality in the schools," and enthusiastically endorsed George W. Bush for President. A bit of a contradiction, he’s a conservative (replacing the “red” Ken Livingston) who rides around the capital city on a bicycle and champions public transit. But, hey, even the right-wingers in Europe look lefty by our Tea Party standards.
The city has tried various electric taxi projects, but the latest one is going wide. Johnson is solidly behind a plan to bring plug-in hybrid taxis to London, and this week he met with Metrocab’s first electro-cabbie, Tony Norris. The car may look like a totally traditional London cab, but it’s innovative under the hood.
As in the Chevrolet Volt or REx version of the BMW i3, electric motors drive the car, with internal-combustion assist. A one-liter gas engine acts as a generator to give 350 miles. The powertrain was developed by Frazer-Nash Research and Ecotive.
According to Johnson:
In our Ultra Low Emissions Zones (ULEZ), all taxis are to be zero-emissions capable, which means drivers must switch over to electric drive when in the ULEZ. The aim is to have 7,000 zero-emissions-capable taxis on the streets of London by 2020, and now is the time to move forward with these remarkable technological developments.
Johnson described the Metrocab as “an absolutely beautiful machine and a masterpiece of British engineering. Totally silent, it’s the Rolls Royce of taxis and can do 100 miles per gallon.”
Taxi drivers can save up to $67 a day driving the 100-mpg Metrocab, so they’re all for it. Here's a closer look at the cabs on video: