London Black Cabs Seek Their Own Brexit With Paris Calling

  • Electric version of classic London cab to hit Paris in 2018
  • London Taxi to have gasoline-powered generator to extend range

A TX5 London taxi made by Chinese company Geely.

Photographer: Adrian Dennis/AFP/Getty Images

London’s iconic black cabs aren’t waiting for the U.K.’s vote on European Union membership, seeking their own Brexit by pitching an electric version for Paris and other major European cities.

London Taxi Co., which manufactures most of the city’s cabs, showed the TX5 prototype in Paris on Thursday. The car is powered by electric motors with an on-board gasoline-fueled generator for extra range. The goal is to offer the vehicle to cabbies in the French capital by 2018 and then expand to cities such as Barcelona, Oslo, Amsterdam and Berlin.

With its spacious passenger seating and extended range, London Taxi is hoping the model takes off on the continent amid uncertainty over the U.K.’s future if the country votes to leave the EU, the so-called Brexit, later this month. The traditionally styled cab is targeted at urban centers, where air quality is a growing problem. Paris is set to ban vehicles more than 20 years old starting next month.

“Most of the major cities in Europe have an air-pollution problem,” said Peter Johansen, head of the taxi manufacturer, which was bought by China’s Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co. in 2013. The limited range of existing models “is what has stopped until now the adoption of electric vehicles as the mainstay of taxis.”

App Competitors

London cabs aren’t the only ones going green: France’s leading taxi company, Taxis G7, and Uber Technologies Inc. now allow French users to order electric and hybrid vehicles on their apps. Since December, tourists can also visit Paris aboard a retrofitted vintage Citroen 2CV car with an all-electric engine.

The rollout of the TX5 is part of a $400 million program that includes a new factory near Coventry, England. In addition to targeting traditional cabbies, London Taxi also plans to offer the car to ride-sharing apps such as Uber and its competitors.

London Taxi said the cost of owning the vehicle will make it attractive but declined to provide details about price or range.

“We are offering a global product that will be a global beater,” said Johansen, who says the car can reach European markets even with a Brexit. The country is “so much part of Europe now.”

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