Could an electrified German microcar be the perfect taxicab for London? Volkswagen apparently thinks so, as the company showed off a London Taxi concept in the English capital earlier this morining.
Look familiar? It should. The London Taxi Up! is quite similar to the Milano Taxi concept shown earlier this year, which was in turn based upon the company’s 2007 Space Up! Blue concept. As was the case with the Milano Taxi, the London Taxi Up! show car is a pure battery electric vehicle. A 50-kW electric motor drives the rear wheels, and is powered by a 45 kWh lithium-ion battery pack. Volkswagen estimates the battery pack provides 186 miles of range, and can be quick charged to 80 percent of capacity within an hour.
Like the Milano Taxi, VW designers played around with the Space Up! body shell and interior design to suit taxi service. The rear bench seat has been shifted backwards as far as possible, while a cargo hold replaces the front passenger seat. Despite the car’s minute stature, VW says this unusual seating arrangement yields legroom comparable to a luxury sedan. Light interior colors and a glass roof — emblazoned with the Union Jack — reportedly also help lend the cabin an airy, inviting feel.
Volkswagen designers bathed the Up! taxi in the traditional black paint of prior London cabs, but failed to modify the vehicle in one important manner: driver position. The concept still uses a left-hand-drive configuration, and places the passenger’s entrance door on the side of the vehicle opposite the curb. VW admits the showcar “doesn’t adhere to current legal requirements regulating taxis in London,” but simply provides a look at what a small, efficient cab could look like. Traditional taxis haven’t been outlawed in London, but ever-tightening European emission standards could ultimately force a switch to vehicles like this in the near future.