New electric London taxi undergoes extreme Artic Circle test to ensure you’ll be warm when you catch one in townMon, 20/03/2017
Waiting for a taxi can get chilly, especially with our notoriously unpredictable British weather. So, it might be comforting to know that London taxis have been tested to ensure they’re delightfully toasty when you hop in.
Rob Hull, The Mail Online, reports:
Top Gear recently proved just how reliable a London taxi can be when a black cab won the show's series-opening challenge - a dash across Kazakhstan's unforgiving terrain.
But to ensure the forthcoming TX5 electric version is just as bulletproof as the current model, the London Taxi Company (LTC) has taken it to the Arctic Circle for some extreme weather testing, enduring -15°C temperatures in Norway's most remote regions.
The LTC said the mission was to prove the 'highest levels of quality, reliability and usability for demanding taxi usage cycles', before the Coventry-built model could be signed off to patrol the capital's streets later this year.
The taxi maker released a selection of photos documenting the test programme undertaken by the new model, which, unlike the current diesel-powered version used by Rory Reid in the first episode of the new Top Gear series, is thrust by electric motors, batteries and a supplementary petrol engine.
LTC said this is part of the 'most comprehensive product quality programme in its 98-year history' to ensure that the battery and range of the vehicle is not affected by the coldest of temperatures before being released onto London's roads.
But the test programme is not just about guaranteeing the batteries don't quickly go flat if the UK is subject to extreme winter conditions.
The super-cold temperatures also serve to check that the heating and ventilation in the TX5 continues to perform as required even when the mercury plummets to the bitterest of levels.
The driving experience for cabbies was also reviewed to make sure grip, drivability and visibility isn't hampered on the rare occasions that the capital's tarmac is covered in snow and ice.
Steve McNamara, general secretary at the Licensed Taxi Drivers Association, took part in the testing to make sure it was up to scratch, declaring: 'the world's best cab drivers now have the best tool for the job'. High praise indeed.
This harsh test is just the tip of the iceberg for the vehicle - LTC promises it will soon be encasing the new taxi in a giant fridge that drops as low as -49°C to make sure the electrified drivetrain still fires up.
It says this test will 'guarantee that the new taxi will always start on the coldest of nights' - not that London is expecting that level of chill any time soon.
Contrary to popular belief overseas, London doesn't always have bad weather. In fact, a late summer heatwave last year saw temperatures soar as high as 34°C. So to make sure the taxi functions appropriately in warm weather too, it will be tested in high-temperature environments before it is deemed ready for sale in October.
Bosses at the firm said the production-ready version would be signed off once these test cycles were complete and manufacturing would begin at its new £300 million facility on 22 March, which has been setup with new investment from Chinese parent company Geely.
'We are now nearing the end of our development programme, and will soon commit the product to series production at our all-new manufacturing facility in Ansty, near Coventry,' confirmed quality director Wolfram Liedtke, who is better known for putting Land Rovers to the test in the harshest of conditions in a previous role.
'We understand drivers will want to be sure that our range extended electric vehicle technology works in all conditions which is why we've gone to such efforts to test in these extreme environments.
'It will be, without doubt, the highest quality and resilient product in London Taxi's history.'
Details of the new electrified TX5 taxi remain under close wraps ahead of the official reveal later this year, but LTC has already said the range will exceed cabbie requirements 'comfortably'.
The firm has previously said that drivers could top-up electric charge once a day and travel entirely on electric power during their shift.
With electric cars becoming much more popular, it’s great that the minor details are being considered. This should ensure that electric cars will not only be better for the environment but they will also still have the home comforts we’ve become accustomed to.