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11 August, 2010 - 14:51 By Staff Reporter

Lotus turns London’s black cabs green

It is anticipated that the new fuel cell hybrid taxis will soon hit London’s roads

Lotus Engineering and partners pioneering the world’s most fuel efficient taxis have accelerated progress in turning London’s famous black cabs super ‘green.’

They are currently engaged in talks with the Public Carriage Office and Vehicle Certification Agency to get the fuel cell hybrid taxis on the road, Business Weekly can reveal. The partners are well advanced in the development stage, running the zero emissions taxis around the test track.Lotus reports that the programme is going to schedule and it is anticipated that the cabs will soon be running on the road. It is planned to have a fleet of 20 vehicles on the streets of London by 2012.The development vehicles have been assembled at Lotus Engineering in Norfolk but in production it is planned that the fuel cell hybrid taxis will be produced at LTI Vehicles, which is part of the consortium along with Intelligent Energy and TRW Conekt. The project has been funded by the UK government’s Technology Strategy Board.The fuel cell hybrid project draws on Lotus Engineering’s established core competency of electrical and electronic integration. It involves a highly complex integration of a hydrogen fuel cell, electric motor, regenerative braking and batteries.  Lotus Engineering has been responsible for the integration and efficient packaging of all of these systems along with managing the propulsion system using a sophisticated Lotus designed controller to manage total power and energy usage of the vehicle.  While the taxi looks and drives like an iconic London black cab, the Fuel Cell Black Cab is powered by an Intelligent Energy hydrogen fuel cell system hybridised with lithium polymer batteries, allowing the vehicle to operate for a full day without the need for refuelling. Capable of achieving a top speed of over 80 mph, it has a range of more than 250 miles on a full tank of hydrogen, refuels in about five minutes and produces no emissions other than water vapour. London’s Deputy Mayor for Policing and Chair of the London Hydrogen Partnership, Kit Malthouse, unveiled the prototype at City Hall recently and said: “The black cab is a much loved London icon, but it is also  a significant source of pollution especially in the centre of the city. “This Fuel Cell Black Cab, which emits only water from its tailpipe, is an exciting glimpse of how hydrogen technology could soon play a vital role in cleaning up air quality for urban dwellers.” Later this year, Transport for London will start operating five hydrogen- fuel cell buses and the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, has committed to working with manufacturers to make all taxis operating in London zero tail-pipe emissions by 2020.   The first hackney-carriage licences date from 1662 and apply literally to horse-drawn carriages that operated as vehicles for hire. The black cab that most people associate with London taxis was the Austin FX4, introduced in 1959. The model, with many modifications over the years, remained in production until 1997, making it one of the longest running production vehicles in history. The Intelligent Energy fuel cell system has been integrated into the most recent LTI TX4 design and fits in to the vehicle without intrusion into its internal or luggage space. • PHOTOGRAPH SHOWS: It is anticipated that the new fuel cell hybrid taxis will soon hit London’s roads

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