The London Taxi Company (LTC) today unveiled the new designfor its next generation zero emission capableBlack Cab, the TX5, at a VIP eventcelebrating creative industries and design held at Lancaster House, London, as part of the state visit tothe UK by Chinese President Xi Jinping.
The TX5 captures the spirit of past generations of LTC models suchas the Fairway series and draws on more than sixty years of style that has madethe Black Cab an iconic sight on the streets of London. Whilemaintaining recognisable key features, the new zero emissioncapable TX5has been updated to reflect the needs of today’s passengers and the movetowards a low-carbon economy.
The prototypeof the new model was unveiled in the presence of the ChinesePresident Xi Jinping, who is on a four-day state visit to the UK, and the Duke andDuchess of Cambridge.
In addition to a new light-weight aluminium body structure andcomposite panelling, the TX5 benefits from a range extended battery electricvehicle system ensuring no range anxiety and offering the reliability requiredby London’s Black Cab drivers. Although the TX5 looks unmistakeably like aLondon taxi, each of the 3,000 components that make up the vehicle will be new.
The TX5 has been designed with an overriding focus on the comfort ofpassengers and drivers. As well as accommodating six passenger seats andfeaturing improved driver leg room, the TX5 also heralds the return of therear-hinged door to improve passenger access. It has sufficient space for aforward facing wheelchair, helping to meet the travel needs of those withmobility issues. TheTX5 is also equipped with WiFi internet capability and providescharging points for drivers and passengers in line with London’s reputation asa hub for tech innovation and connectivity on-the-go.
LTC’s parent company, the leading Chinese automotive manufacturer Zhejiang Geely Holding Group, also announced its intention to invest an additional £50 million inits state-of-the-art greenfield production facility in Ansty, Warwickshire, to turn the site into the group’sUK R&D headquarters. This will bring total investment in the new site to£300 million.
At 30,000 squaremetres, the Ansty facility will now be 50%larger than originally planned to accommodate the enhanced R&D centre andadditional technical facilities alongside the production line to build the newTX5.
Prime Minister David Cameron said: “The British economy is one ofthe most open and welcoming anywhere in the world I am delighted that PresidentXi Jinping is here with me to see Chinese investment helping to deliver atwenty-first century vision for a truly British icon as well as vital privatesector jobs outside of London”.
Li Shufu, founder and chairman of Zhejiang Geely HoldingGroup said: “We will have invested many years of development and more than £250million in bringing the TX5 to market. This is testament to Geely’s commitment tothe UK and The London Taxi Company, and demonstrates our leading position on new energy technologies, our loyal and talented workforce and our competitive edge when itcomes to delivering pioneering design and technology. At the same time we are happy to play apart in furthering Sino-Anglo relations by investing in the UK andstrengthening business and governmental ties between the two nations”.
Peter Johansen, CEO of The London Taxi Company said: “We are hugelyexcited to be unveiling the TX5 prototype design for the first time and in suchhigh company. The new vehicle has a wealth of new features, which will all betried and tested and then tested again to provide a perfect balance of timelessdesign driven by ground-breaking technology”.
Designing a British Icon
The new vehicle was designed at Geely’s design centre in Barcelona,led by British designers Peter Horbury and David Ancona and supported by a200-strong team of engineers and designers based in the UK. Before joiningGeely in 2012, Mr Horbury was chief designer at Ford and was responsible foroverseeing the design process at marques including Volvo, Aston Martin,Jaguar and Land Rover.
He said: “We were acutely aware of the huge responsibility thatcomes with introducinga new generation of design for what is already aninstantly recognisable and iconic vehicle. We wanted to retain those aspectsthat make the London taxi what it is and what it stands for, while ensuringthat the new design reflects everything that a 21st Century vehicleneeds to be.
“We have sought to build on existing features such as theheadlights, grille and strong roof lines. But we have also made sure that thenew vehicle significantly builds on space and comfort levels for bothpassengers and drivers.”
Ansty is the first new vehicle production facility to be built inthe UK for more than 10 years. Ground breaking on the site took place in Augustthis year and the new facility will begin trial production in 2016. The newAnsty site will work on nine potential product variants, including lightcommercial vehicles that could be developed for LTC and the Geely group. Theinvestment will create more than 1,000 jobs and around 500 additional jobs inthe supply chain.
The TX5 will be launched in the UK at the end of 2017 and acrossinternational markets in 2018.