There are few cities with as many iconic landmarks and such a long history as London, and you can hardly walk ten feet without bumping into something globally recognizable. London’s black cab taxis have become an icon onto themselves, and they’re getting a 21st century upgrade via a range-extended electric drivetrain that returns about 98 MPG on the Euro testing cycle.
The Range-Extended Electric Metrocab is the first of its kind approved by Transport for London to ferry paying customers across the city, though it’s taken about a decade of development to get here. The drivetrain is nothing we’re not used to seeing, with a 1.0 liter gas generator powering an 12.2 kilowatt lithium-ion battery that drives a rear-mounted electric motor. Top speed is limited to just 80 MPH, and with a curb weight of some 5,545 pounds acceleration isn’t like to match that of the Tesla Model S…which you can also hail for taxi in service in London, along with a Nissan LEAF.
However, the 98 MPG rating and limited electric driving range (which is unspecified, but I’m going to guess is between 25 and 35 miles) is estimated to save taxi drives between £20 and £40 per day, or about $25 to $45. If you average that out to about $30 per day, that’s $210 in fuel savings per week, or over $10,000 a year. Furthermore, the REE Metrocab produces just 50 g/km of CO2 and its even wheelchair accessible. The interior is much more 21st century too, with big comfy seats, air suspension, infotainment screen, and seating for up to seven individuals.
Is it the most exciting electrified vehicle I’ve ever written about? No, not by a long shot. It is, however, a neat addition to an iconic taxi fleet that pays homage to the past, but is all future beneath the skin.