Aug. 6 - Japanese car-maker, Nissan, has launched a new taxi that promises to be competitive in price and more environmentally friendly than other taxis in the UK capital. Joanne Nicholson reports.
There were two - the classic London cab, and more recently, the Mercedes taxi. But now there's a new kid on the block, and it comes from further afield. Japan's Nissan's brought out a taxi they say will rival the other models, both in price and environmentally. UPSOT Andy Palmer is Nissan's executive vice president. He wasn't able to tell me how much the new cab will be. But It comes with either a diesel or the more expensive electric engine. (SOUNDBITE) (English) ANDY PALMER, EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT, NISSAN, SAYING: "The technology for electric is very high, particularly the battery cost, that said, we can still make it very economical, and if you were to look at total cost of ownership, it can start to look a very attractive proposition, particularly where governments give a discount or an incentive." But if Nissan believes cost will be the carrot to lure in London's cabbies, then the diesel option will surely be the bigger seller. Nissan says the diesel model is 50 percent more fuel and CO2 efficient than the traditional model. The Licensed Taxi Driver's Association wants its members to become greener so they can lobby for more road improvements. Steve McNamara is from the LTDA. (SOUNDBITE) (English) STEVE McNAMARA, LICENSED TAXI DRIVERS ASSOCIATION, SAYING: "The environmental benefits of driving an electric vehicle or a zero emissions vehicle would certainly help us in our dealings with TFL and other people, and we are optimistic that will be the case." Out on London's streets, it's quiet for August But there are almost 23,000 licensed cabs on the road. PTC London's iconic taxis are recognisable around the world and are an important part of the city's image. But despite the Olympics the summer's been disappointing for cab drivers. And with each traditional cab costing a minimum of 35,000 pounds many drivers are now welcoming more international - and cheaper - competition. London's traditional cabs are already manufactured in China - they're just assembled in the UK - so that should not be an issue. But London's cabbies are notoriously hard to please. (SOUNDBITE) (English), LONDON CAB DRIVER, SAYING: "If it looks like it's just a normal car and it's not an image of a cab, then people are going to get confused - tourists and that. Whereas when you see the black cab you know it's a black cab." (SOUNDBITE) (English), LONDON CAB DRIVER, SAYING: "I think times are changing and if people who make the traditional taxi can't come up with a good quality vehicle that the drivers can depend on, then I'm afraid the drivers are just not going to buy it." Nissan's making the car in Spain, and there are plans to have the assembly operation in the UK. The diesel version should be out for testing later this year and the electric is scheduled for 2014. Joanne Nicholson, Reuters