LONDON -- Canada’s Multimatic which specializes in building niche cars such as the Ford GT and Aston Martin One-77, will start production in the UK next year of the Metrocab plug-in hybrid taxi to meet growing demand for low-emission cabs.
Multimatic will build the taxi for the Frazer-Nash Research engineering group, which owns the Metrocab nameplate. The seven-seat Metrocab will have the boxy design of the traditional London black cab.
It will be a rival to established black cab maker, the London Taxi Company, owned by China’s Zhejiang Geely Holding Group, which also owns Volvo Cars.
Multimatic will build the Metrocab at its factory in Coventry, central England, at a rate of 3,500 a year when it reaches peak production, the head of the Metrocab program, Sheban Siddiqi, told Automotive News Europe.
Siddiqi said the Metrocab was designed to meet new regulations in London that will require all taxis to be capable of running with zero emissions starting in 2018. “We think cab drivers will want to renew their cabs before that,” he said. The Metrocab is already operating in London as part of a trial fleet.
London has high diesel pollution, much of it emitted by the city’s 22,000 taxis, the majority of which run on diesel fuel.
The Metrocab will go on sale in London before being offered in other European cities such as Edinburgh, Paris and Luxembourg.
The Metrocab is powered by a 1.0-liter gasoline engine and two electric motors. Its CO2 emissions are below 65 grams per km.
The taxi will use a three-cylinder Ecoboost engine supplied by Ford Motor, the Financial Times reported last week. Metrocab would not confirm the engine supplier.
Geely’s London Taxi Company plans to launch a low-emissions black cab by the end of 2017. The taxi will be built in Coventry at a new production facility with a planned capacity of 36,000 units.
Multimatic, which builds the Ford GT in Canada, said it will expand its Coventry factory to build Metrocab taxis.