PARIS -- London's iconic black cabs may soon be a common sight on the streets of Paris and other European cities as the company that manufactures them, the Chinese-owned London Taxi Co., hopes to win over cab drivers outside the UK.
London Taxi Co. showed the TX5 plug-in hybrid prototype in Paris on Thursday in a bid 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 and the company is targeting it at urban centers, where air quality is a growing problem and authorities are keen to embrace electric or plug-in hybrid vehicles.
In a bid to cut vehicle pollution, Paris is set to ban vehicles that are more than 20 years old from its roads on weekdays 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."
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 if the UK votes to leave the European Union on June 23. The country is "so much part of Europe now."
London cabs aren't the only ones going green: France's leading taxi company, Taxis G7, and Uber Technologies now allow French users to order electric and hybrid vehicles on their apps.
And, since December, tourists can also visit Paris aboard a retrofitted vintage Citroen 2CV car with an all-electric engine.