back to article London cabs to go 'lectric in 2009

While denizens of New York and California will soon see the recently announced Mini E gliding down their streets, Londoners will have to make do with a 'leccy version of the city's famous black cab. The Financial Times has reported that Chinese car maker Geely - which owns 23 per cent of Manganese Bronze, the UK-based maker ( …


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  1. Anonymous Coward

    Previous form.

    One assumes that the combination of Londinium-focused public transport and Li-Ion battery tech, both with impressively incendiary track records, will result in these being not so much a practical method of getting from place to place, as an entertaining array of low-grade mobile bonfires.

  2. Arnold Lieberman

    Gold old BoJo

    Seems eminently sensible when you consider that an urban cab spends a lot of it's time idling in traffic jams or waiting in line at stations. 100 miles seems a bit low for a full day's cabbing, so I would hope that TfL can set up recharge points at stations for cabs to top up whilst waiting. At least they could still run their radios etc without hitting the battery supply.

    Perhaps we can look forward to some lithium fires in future.

  3. Steve Todd Silver badge

    Battery space

    "No news on where exactly the battery pack will go, either"

    Well, there's always that big yawning space under the bonnet where the engine used to fit, and that gap where the petrol tank was, and if they don't do something stupid like try to use the current mechanical gear box and drive train (rather than put motor and box together in the wheel hubs) then there's a bit more room there too.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I, for one, look forward to being run down on my lunch break by our new stealth-black, silent, death cabs overlords.

    Indicators? Can't use them guv, it runs down the batteries.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    How many miles does the average London taxi do in a shift? And how long will these beasties take to charge? Will cabbies find their shifts shortened by the need to recharge?

    And I won't even ask how all that extra electricity is going to be generated. Coal, oil, gas? You've just got to love a city dweller's belief a "zero emission" vehicle. As long as the emissions aren't getting anywhere near their lungs they're not bothered. When using electricity generated by burning fossil fuels do electric vehicles emit more or less nasties than their internally combusting brethren? I'm of the opinion that the user should have to suffer the emissions of their chosen method of transportation. So lets do away with the national grid and make cities use local power stations, I'll bet there'd be less electricity used in cities if they had to suffer all those emissions.

    We're without mains and running on the genny. Having the diesel fumes of your own generating plant right outside your window does tend to colour your view of the emissions created by the generation of electricity.

  6. Andy Barber

    First you can't here it turn up...

    ... then three arrive!

  7. Tony Smith, Editor, Reg Hardware (Written by Reg staff)

    Re. power generation and emissions

    Let's get this cleared up, once and for all. Yes, running 'leccy cars isn't truly zero-emission, because power will - for the foreseeable future - come from burning fossil fuel.

    However, it's much, much easier to trap and process the carbon coming out of X power plants than it is to do the same with X x 1000 (or whatever the multiple is) cars. As we switch in more renewable sources, that balance only tilts further in the favour of the 'emit at source, not at the point of use' approach.

  8. Flocke Kroes Silver badge


    £0.04/mile X 100miles X 500 charge cycles = £2000

    After about 500 charge cycles the battery is knackered, and a replacement may well cost about £2000. Looks like the cabs are getting free electricity.

    If the electricity is free, put it on overhead cables so cabs (and buses) work like bumpem^W dodgem cars. Then you can save the cost of moving and replacing hefty batteries.

  9. Richard Brown

    8 hours worth of 'leccy

    As we have been told on numerous occasions that the average speed of traffic in London is 12 mph, that means it will take a cabbie 8 hours to do his 100 miles, and then when you add on tea breaks, lunch breaks and sitting in cab ranks will extend the time even further.

    And speaking of cab ranks, sounds like a potential rechargeing point to me. Have powered rails embeded in the road, have some contacts beneath the car that can be lowered to draw power - full size Scalectric!

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ the ranty AC

    "I'm of the opinion that the user should have to suffer the emissions of their chosen method of transportation"

    Does that include recirculating BO and farts for cyclists using some combination of wetsuit, gimp-mask and vacuum cleaner hose?

  11. Richard Silver badge

    @Tony Smith

    Finally! Some sanity!

    On top of those obvious points, it is much easier to migrate however many Giga-Watts of generating capacity is required over to cleaner alternatives, rather than trying to put a small clean source into however many millions of cars are needed.

  12. Mike Hebel

    @Arnold Lieberman

    Thing is - when an electric car is sitting still it is using no energy. Well not unless the radio or lights are turned on. Lights, wipers, and radio would likely be the biggest draw on a stationary electric car.

    And if they ever figure out how to do proper LED based headlights you'll only have two current draws left to deal with when stopped in traffic.

  13. b

    @Tony Smith

    bang on m8.

    always pisses me off when people cynically and negatively spout that line.

    OF COURSE if all cars are electric, we simply change one source, rather than all the 24m (is it?) cars on the road.

    ridiculous reason for not progressing.

    * the infernal combustion engine must die! *



    p.s. stuff and nonsense:

  14. Richard Cartledge
    IT Angle


    There is no fuel duty on electricity, but 75% of the price of road fuel is tax. This shows that the only cost saving is the tax element, so one may deduce that it's energy requirement is the same as a diesel cab, but without the pleasant aroma or pedestrian-awareness warning sound.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Tele commute

    Companies that allow tele commuting and employees that tele commute should be given tax breaks, how about 0% income tax and NI paid by the government for 5 years. That should get us out of this economic slump./

    The roads are too full in the UK, of course immigration is a big factor for this, but a lot of people have left this country as well. So, I blame the breeders, voting rights should be taken away from every couple for a period of 4 years after every child, twins or children in between just add to the figure.

  16. Ed

    I was told that....

    I was told that you can draw power from hi voltage lines by having the correct equipment (coils or some such I aint a sparky so i dont know) just sitting on the gound underneath them. apparently the radiation from the lines generates electricty in the coil (or what ever it is)

    Could an option be to have high powered line burried in the road and the cabs draw power from it, maybe not enough to run but enough to trickle charge as they go about their bussiness.

    again before some smart arse shoots me down, this is just what i was told.....

  17. G Fan

    @Tony Smith

    There's also (shock horror) nuclear power. Negligible CO2 emissions for the lifetime of the power station and lots of lovely non-dino electricity for powering up electric vehicles.

    Suggest putting a slightly leaky Nuke near "Tele commute" AC's house. That should guarantee he never loses his right to vote...

  18. Mr Floppy
    Paris Hilton

    @Previous form.

    > One assumes that the combination of Londinium-focused public transport and Li-Ion

    > battery tech, both with impressively incendiary track records

    It's using LiFePO4, which is much safer and stable. London public transport howeever ..

    Lithium iron phosphate batterys are more environmentally friendly when compared to the traditional lithium-ion cobalt ones.

    LiFePO4 can be cycled up to 2000 times.

    The down side of LiFePO4 is lower energy density. The LiCoO2 are still the best but LiFePO4 is ok. I can still get an 1/2 hour or so out of my torch on turbo where as the LiCoO2 gives around 35 minutes. I dare not run it any longer as the LiCoO2 is unprotected.

  19. Anonymous Coward


    Will the cabs be using 'leccy meters and will the punter need to keep putting in 50p to keep the 'leccy meter going?

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    How about putting solar panels on the roof for recharging the battery during the day?

    Also what about putting a turbine in the front grill of the car so when you're driving along, the turbine starts turning from the air being forced through the grills, in turn charging the battery?

    Also, faster the cabbie goes more charge the battery will get.

    But, this is London so that idea will fail, standing still traffic and all especially the M25.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    But does it have a heater for winter and air con for summer?

    Average speed may be 12mph but I can assure you if a cabie knows a longer but quicker route he will take it!

    I dont see these catching on at all! they need at least 200 Miles per charge and enough power for a heater in winter for 8 hours.

    Surprising how BMW managed 95mph and 150 miles from a mini and these are touting a miserly 50x100 I suspect that using cheap batteries is a false economy!

    (based on the proprtional approach that bigger cars carry more batteries)

  22. Pete James

    Another yawn inducing effort........

    "Technical details of the TX4 E are few and far between."

    Bit odd that. MBH aren't exactly overrun with competition in the Hackney Carriage market. The odd FIAT MPV maybe but that's about it seeing as the Metro Cammell Weymann went West a few years back. So, why on earth are they hiding the details?

    Being a teensy-weensy bit cynical I just assumed that Geely's contribution from their stake was use of their PR firm. In other words, it's a load of old bollocks which is pretty consistent with it involving a Chinese automotive partner (and the media a shameful record in printing without question by the way).

    But then I saw the launch date of 'early 2009'. That's a minimum of just 9 weeks away. So they have really told a whopping big fib here or they do have something good to go. A pity no techie details are forthcoming but seeing as it is yet another re-hash of an existing design then there's really nothing special about this. Sad but true.

    As for power lines in the road, 'twas done years ago albeit for trolley buses. Good idea too apart from when they iced up.

  23. GrahamT


    I'm not going to shoot you down in flames; contacless charging is a good idea, I use it for my electric toothbrush every day. However, lines in the road probably wouldn't work as the infrastructure cost would be horrendous and you need the coils to be as close as possible to each other for efficiency.

    A more practical approach would be to have large coils under the cab ranks and a lowerable coil in the cab. When the driver parks his cab, he pushes the recharge button to lower the coil onto the road and pick up the magnetic flux from the coil beneath. Starting the cab would lift the coil. In a perfect world this would be automatic so the driver wouldn't need to do anything apart from park over the charger coil.

    Of course the taxi driver could just plug it into a post, but then you get the drivers who forget and drive off taking the post with them, and people tripping over the cable and suing the cab company.

    I hope the cabs have regenerative braking to prolong the charge too.

    100 miles is a bit short; a round trip from the city to Heathrow is about 33 miles and Gatwick is 60+. These trips are very lucrative, so only being able to fit one or two a day into a single charge would be a big disincentive. Top speed of 50 mph on the motorway is not going to be very popular either.

  24. Allan Dyer Silver badge

    Re: Recharging

    "How about putting solar panels on the roof for recharging the battery during the day?"

    London, that well-known sunny, tropical city. Or were you planning for after global warming? In which case, you'll need an electric-powered boat.

  25. Anonymous Coward

    @Flocke Kroes

    They where called trams, you could also power them using Eco fuel feed into a 1hp biological engine known as a horse. These also have the advantage of being a technology refined over several thousand years, if people are really serious about low carbon emissions old technology will provide the answers, this current nonsense about electric cars is just so much technophilic Tom foolery.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Tony Smith

    "Let's get this cleared up, once and for all. Yes, running 'leccy cars isn't truly zero-emission, because power will - for the foreseeable future - come from burning fossil fuel."

    Sounds good, but when you talk about emissions you seem to only consider carbon emissions to be a problem. Of course this makes things nice and easy when you are drawing up solutions to the emissions problem. I, on the other hand, still think of the world in the way it was before some f*ckwit invented the term "carbon footprint". Of course the real world is still exactly the way it was before that phrase was first coined, unfortunately it seems a massive chunk of the population think it has changed measurably and that all forms of polution other than carbon emissions have simply gone away.

    The term "carbon footprint" has been used largely to politcal ends. It's just a device to direct all the negative attention away from the unpleasant waste products of modern life and towards carbon emissions. Unfortunately the device seems to be working. Politicians and big business just love it because it effectively gives them permission to f*ck up the planet in any way they want just so long as it doesn't decreases their carbon footprint. Anybody complains and they can claim, preferably with a look of hurt innocence, that they are doing it to save the planet.

    "What's that? We haven't got a plan for dealing with the tons and tons of mercury being used in low energy lightbulbs? We don't seem to know how they are being disposed of? We haven't even thought about the risk of leaks during the manufacturing process? We haven't thought about the long term effects on the planet? How can you say all these things? WE'RE DOING IT TO SAVE THE PLANET!"

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    You'd be talking about electromagnetic induction, theoretically, yes it is possible, in fact there are some uses that you may have come across, chargers for electric toothbrushes spring to mind. Also, a transformer or motor works by induction (amongst other things, and I'm not getting into that to many memories of too many lectures). Unfortionately it's not very efficient for power transmission unless you have socking great coils wrapped round a nice big iron core, certainly not very good for a single power line.

  28. Webster Phreaky

    The Reg Hardware Assholes -- Censor Comments that make a point

    Thank you The Reg Hardware editor assholes for censoring my common sense comments why electric cars are a farce (where the hell do you think the recharge is coming from?). In fact, you Reg assholes are a farce too, come to think of it! Liberal douche bags.

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