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Last year, a prototype Nissan NV200 took to the streets of London, promising a bright future of low-emission public transport for the capital.
This in itself was exciting enough, but the test model was shrouded in a black cloak, its final design yet to be unveiled. The same Paddington designers who gave us the Qashqai and Juke have been busy ensuring that the specialist Nissan NV200 is instantly recognisable as a London Taxi. Now, they're finally ready to show their hand.
It looks fantastic, at a glance every bit like the iconic London cab, yet subtly enhanced for the modern age. Under the hood, though, expect a quiet revolution.The Nissan NV200 London Taxi
Nissan are already well-versed in the fine art of rejuvenating the 'umble London Taxi. In the 1980s and 90s, they fitted FX4 Fairway and TX1 black cabs with their durable 2.7 litre TD27 engine. Though solid and reliable, these days the emphasis is quite rightly on preparing the country for a future in which we can no longer take petrol and diesel for granted. On that front, Nissan have delivered.
The new Nissan NV200 London Taxi will be launched in December 2014 with a clean 1.6 litre petrol engine and an automatic gearbox. This in itself is a lot cleaner than the cabs currently crawling along the streets of London, but it seems to be something of a temporary place-holder in advance of a fully-electric, zero emission version of the Nissan NV200.
This e-NV200 is promised for 2015, a full five years ahead of the Mayor's target of 2020 for zero-emission taxis.
The Nissan NV200 London Taxi looks like a London taxi. It took a lot of work to make this so. The round headlamps and the remodelled grille set out to mirror the traditional “face” of the black cab, whilst LED lighting makes the traditional taxi sign clearer and easier to spot from a distance. New front bumper panels complete the look.
Darren Scriven is the Design Excellence Manager at Nissan's creative hub in Paddington: “Having already overcome the unique technical challenges presented by the development of a new Hackney Carriage for London ahead of our launch of the vehicle in August 2012,” he said, “we turned our attention to making the vehicle look the part.
“The Mayor’s office and taxi drivers were very keen that we maintain the character of the Hackney Carriage, making it something that people in the city can be proud of.
“The main challenges were concerned with making sure customers can easily recognise it as a taxi. Being in London, we were able to go out and talk to cabbies about what was important to them as well as look at the vehicle from a customer’s viewpoint.
"It’s unusual for us to be able to work on something as bespoke as this, specifically for one location in the world and we are very proud to have been asked to do so.”
The Nissan NV200 London Taxi is part of Nissan's global taxi programme. As we speak, they're also developing efficient, low-emission taxis for New York, Barcelona and Tokyo.
Cars are at their least efficient when trapped in traffic jams, and taxis spend a lot of their time in traffic jams. It comes with the territory. The development of greener taxis, then, is of the utmost importance, and it's genuinely impressive that Nissan are managing to achieve this, on a global scale, without compromising on local colour.