Sam Philip06 August 2012

Nissan reveals future black cab

New York’s 'taxi of tomorrow' spawns London Hackney cab, could go electric

Nissan NV200

In the south-east corner of a country called Great Britain lurks a small town called London. You may have heard of it. It's hosting a minor sporting event at present.

In the small town of London, all Londonists commute in traditional ‘black taxicabs' : in fact, these ‘taxicabs' carry over 300,000 passengers each day and clock up over 230 million miles each year (collectively, we mean).

Gallery: All the pictures of Nissan's proposed black cab

And now Nissan has unveiled its vision for London's black cab of the future: the NV200 London Taxi. If you think it looks familiar, you're not wrong: this is, essentially, the same van-based MPV announced last year as New York's next city taxi.

But this is more than an Olympics-induced publicity stunt. This is Nissan's bid to become the future London taxi of choice: big business, with over 20,000 black cabs pounding the capital's streets each day.

The NV200 London Taxi isn't quite a repainted version of NY's Big Yellow Taxi. Most obviously, it has a wider front track - 200mm wider, to be precise - tucked under those fatter front arches. That's not an aesthetic choice, but to house the NV200's new front suspension, reworked to give the London cab a turning circle of less than 25 feet.

In the States, the NV200 cab is powered by a four-cylinder petrol, but London's version would use a 1.5-litre diesel engine capable of over 50mpg, more than 50 per cent more efficient than today's most frugal black cabs.

And it's ready for electric. London mayor Boris ‘Zipwire' Johnson has announced his intention to move London to zero-emissions taxiing by 2020, but Nissan reckons it can get there far sooner. Next year, it'll start to trial all-electric NV200's in the capital, which could go on sale as soon as 2014.

Nissan says converting London to all-electric taxis would remove 38,000 tonnes of CO2 from the capital's smoggy atmosphere, as well as saving the average cabbie over £1000 in fuel bills each year.

Gallery: All the pictures of Nissan's proposed black cab

Worried that a fast-depleting, slow-charging battery wouldn't be suitable for the ceaseless grind of the sturdy black cab? Nissan says you're wrong. The average London taxi covers around 120 miles a day, which an NV200 could manage on two charges: one overnight, and a second 30-minute quick charge at lunchtime.

And if you're the sort of Union Jack-waving zealot who's concerned a Japanese minivan would represent a vile desecration of a truly British institution, Nissan says you're wrong again. The UK's biggest producer of cars is no stranger to the world of London taxis: it supplied the 2.7-litre diesel engine to the iconic 1989 FX4 Fairway, a favourite of the capital's cabbies.

So where, TopGear.commers, does the NV200 cab rank on Britain's newly minted list of All Things Olympically Good? A glorious Mo Farah gold medal, or a first-round handball knock-out?

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