LONDON -- Volvo helped to make London’s iconic black taxis more environmentally friendly by supplying an electrified drivetrain to the UK company that builds the famous cabs.
Volvo provides the plug-in electric drivetrain for the TX5 taxi, the latest version of the black cab, which is replacing the diesel-engined TX4.
The taxi will also use the Volvo’s dashboard touchscreen, switchgear and electronics behind it. The rear suspension uses the same transverse composite leaf spring system used by the Volvo XC90 SUV and V90 station wagon.
Both Volvo and the London Taxi Company, which builds the black cabs, are owned by China's Zhejiang Geely Holding Group.
Volvo CEO Hakan Samuelsson said sharing technology had helped London Taxi Company to save costs. "All the electrification technology is developed together with Volvo to give them scale," he told Automotive News Europe at the opening of the taxi firm's new factory in Coventry, central England, last month.
The taxi drives in full-electric mode all the time, a key factor as London and other cities introduce stricter regulations to reduce harmful exhaust emissions. It uses a 1.5-liter gasoline engine supplied by Volvo that doesn't drive the wheels but charges the battery and extends the range. The TX5’s 33 kilowatt-hour pack is from LG Chem, which also supplies Volvo’s plug-in hybrid models. The electric motor is from Volvo supplier Siemens.
London Taxi Company uses its own platform for the TX5. The cab is underpinned by a bonded aluminum chassis designed to cut weight and production costs. The chassis is sourced in the UK, giving the new taxi a 32 percent parts localization rate by value. China and Europe account for 32 percent of the content while the U.S content is 4 percent, London Taxi Company's purchasing manager Philip Bracken said.
The TX5 was developed after London stipulated that any new taxi registered from the beginning of 2018 should have a zero-emission capability. This means taxis will have to have full-electric of hybrid drivetrains.
The cab keeps its boxy design. In the rear it retains the seating arrangement where passengers face each other but there are now six seats instead of five.
Despite having a similar design to the outgoing model, it is all new underneath. “Not a single part was carried over to the new model,” London Taxi Company CEO Chris Gubbey said.
Geely bought London Taxi Company out of bankruptcy in 2013 and has set up about reinventing the firm to build vehicles that satisfy the growing demand for cleaner city vehicles.
The company hopes the cab’s famous heritage that now comes with a low emission drivetrain will help to win export orders from cab companies in cities throughout Europe and in the rest of the world.
The TX5 will also be built in China and a van version will be launched a year later designed for urban delivery companies.