Expected to hit the market in 2017, the new London taxis will, according to Johnson, incorporate ‘the latest state of the art technology’. He continues: “The vehicles this facility produces will help transform London’s taxi fleet, boost jobs and growth in London and the West Midlands, and secure the long-term future of the taxi industry, whilst ensuring everyone who lives, work in or visits our city has the cleanest possible air to breathe.”
The London Taxi Company, LTI, said the factory would represent a major expansion to its existing 70-year old operations in Coventry and create up to 1,000 new jobs. The new plant will have the capacity to produce up to 36,000 vehicles per year, compared to 3,600 at the current plant. After the car hits the UK market in 2017, LTI plants to start exporting it in 2018.
But not everyone was so pleased with the announcement. Green Party London Assembly Member Jenny Jones said there was no guarantee that the new electric capable taxis in London will run on electricity when outside the designated Ultra Low Emission Zone that is due to cover central London from 2020.
“Getting them to switch to clean energy only when they enter the congestion charge zone is a letdown for people living in the rest of London,” she said in a statement. “The Ultra Low Emission Zone is simply too small and the mayor must allow other areas of London to join in the plan to discourage polluting vehicles.” The news came as the government announced an additional £20m fund to help local authorities support the rollout of ultra-low emission taxis across the UK, and a further £25m specifically for London taxi drivers to upgrade their vehicles to low emission models.