The London Taxi Company (LTC) will soon be opening UK’s first car plant dedicated solely to the production of the electric taxi.
LTC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Geely, has invested more than £300m in the new site in Ansty, Coventry and the next-generation London taxi, which will be produced at the plant and exported around the world.
The investment and expansion of LTC has created more than 1,000 new jobs, including 200 engineers and 30 apprenticeships.
The state-of-the-art, vehicle plant has the capacity to build more than 20,000 cars per year – vehicles designed for, and dedicated to one task: to be the best ultra-low emission commercial vehicles in the world.
The taxi vehicle is using proven Volvo Car electric powertrain system technologies and components comprising a new EV lightweight platform, while retaining the iconic design heritage recognized around the world. Further derivatives of this new EV architecture will follow.
All vehicles produced at this plant will go through the most stringent testing regime in the company’s history. Each test vehicle will cover almost 500,000 kilometers, often in extreme conditions, to ensure that no city is off-limits. This program will enable LTC to deliver world-leading urban commercial vehicles, which meet the highest levels of quality, reliability and usability, purposefully designed for demanding daily drive cycles.
The all new electric taxi goes on sale first in London in quarter four 2017, and then around the world in early 2018. The new vehicle will be highly competitive with substantially lower fuel costs than its previous taxis.
Chris Gubbey, Chief Executive of the London Taxi Company, said: “Today marks the rebirth of the London Taxi Company. A company with a singular vision; to design and build dedicated urban commercial vehicles that can operate without emissions in cities around the world and bring down running costs for drivers.”
The fully integrated factory – from research through to production – will also become a globally connected research and development centre in electric vehicle powertrains and lightweight aluminum body structures, which will be applied in all vehicles made at the plant.
The technology behind the new facility and vehicle is cutting edge. It has been developed in collaboration with other members of the Geely group, including Volvo Cars, whilst drawing on LTC’s heritage and expertise in the development of purpose-built taxis.
This partnership has ensured that the vehicle retains its key features such as being wheelchair accessible, and having a high level of manoeuvrability whilst incorporating new features like a spacious cabin area with six passenger seats and a highly sophisticated electric drivetrain.
Carl-Peter Forster, Chairman of the London Taxi Company, said: “The opening of our new plant sets a number of records; it’s the first brand new automotive manufacturing facility in Britain for over a decade; the first dedicated electric vehicle factory in the UK; and the first major Chinese investment in UK automotive.
“We are extremely proud of what we have achieved today, and we have firmly put our stake in the ground as a new, global, automotive leader in urban commercial vehicles.”
The new fully integrated research, development and production facility, where work began just under two years ago, has been supported by the UK Government through its Regional Growth Fund.
The Rt Hon Greg Clark MP, Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy attended the opening ceremony and welcome the investment, stating: “Our iconic black cabs are famous across the world. The London Taxi Company’s impressive new factory and R&D facility showcases the innovation that makes the UK a world leader in the development of new automotive technologies.
Through our ambitious Industrial Strategy, we are committed to building on our strengths and taking advantage of the opportunities the new low carbon economy provides.”
The construction of this plant at Ansty was possible thanks to the commitment of Government to support UK leadership in ultra-low emission vehicles – including measures like a dedicated purchase grants for taxi drivers provided through the Office of Low Emission Vehicles – as well as its ongoing commitment to the Midlands Engine through the government’s Industrial Strategy.
In addition, the London Mayor and TfL have played a significant role in putting the taxi industry on a more sustainable footing – including their proposed taxi decommissioning scheme, their commitment to build a dedicated charging network for commercial vehicle drivers and world leading zero emission licensing requirements.
Shirley Rodrigues the Deputy Mayor for Energy and Environment said: “The Mayor and TfL are fully committed to helping the iconic London taxi trade become the greenest, most sustainable fleet in the world. With air quality at toxic levels in London, our Taxi and Private Hire Action Plan sets out bold measures to fully support the black cab trade’s evolution into zero emission capable vehicles.
“The pioneering models made at this factory will help fast track the taxi industry both in the UK and internationally into the next generation of cleaner vehicles, as well as creating many new jobs.
“Our further efforts to drive up standards across the taxi and private hire industry will also improve safety for every passenger in London, and protect the future of the unique and invaluable service that black cabs provide to Londoners.”
The plant meets the highest environmental standards possible, including 850m2 of photovoltaic solar panels to power the factory and 20 charging points for electric vehicles. LTC also worked closely with Natural England to minimise any potential impact to local wildlife from the construction of the facility, and supported the construction of numerous “newt hotels” to re-home rare species in the area.