London ‘el-cabs’ gear up for Oslo streets

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A specially-designed London taxi made its debut on Oslo’s streets last week and more may be rolled out soon. The new version of the iconic London black cab is electric, features Norwegian components and already has won the interest of at least one local taxi operator.

LEVC rolled out its Norwegian version of an electric London black cab in Norway, shown here in front of the British Embassy in Oslo. PHOTO: LEVC

“Norway is an interesting market for us,” Phil Henrick, sales chief for the London EV Company (LEVC), told newspaper Dagens Næringsliv (DN). LEVC presented the cab on the very day Britain’s Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were in Oslo on an official visit. There were no official ties between the two British events, but the timing seemed hardly a coincidence.

The roll-out was, however, tied to an electric vehicle conference in downtown Oslo, capital of a country already known for its wide use of electric vehicles thanks to all the tax incentives long granted by state officials. The City of Oslo itself is, like London, keen on rolling out a plan to make all taxis emissions-free within a few years.

LEVC is a unit of the company that has produced London black cabs for 70 years. New regulations in London have demanded that the vehicles must be able to be driven emissions-free. DN reported that LEVC’s owner (Geely of China, which also owns Volvo) has thus invested heavily in a new factory in Coventry that’s producing the so-called LEVC TX, an electric vehicle that can be charged from an electricity network and has an extra motor that functions as a power generator. That gives the vehicle a much longer range, with a GPS system that forces it over to electricity when driving within London’s emissions-free zones.

Now the company is gearing to expand sales abroad. Henrick said 225 of the el-cabs have been ordered for use in Amsterdam, and Oslo is another natural market.

London EV Company

The new London EV Company electric cab has already been tested for driving in winter conditions in Norway. Oslo is viewed as an “interesting” market, given residents’ penchant for electric cars and looming city regulations that will demand emissions-free taxis. PHOTO: LEVC

Egil Hogna, head of Norwegian company Hydro Extruded Solutions, was also on hand for the roll-out. Hydro is delivering Norwegian aluminum to LEVC and reopened a plant in Wales to meet demand. “Around 300 kilos of this vehicle is Norwegian,” Hogna told DN. “Many cars have Norwegian parts, but this has more than most.”

Norgestaxi, one of Oslo’s major cab companies, seems impressed by the Nordic version of an electric London black cab. “This is interesting and exciting,” Erlend Eidsvoll, vice-managing director of Norgestaxi, told DN. “Taxis make up a considerable portion of transport in Norway. Emissions-wise, we depend on cars that can operate on electricity or hydrogen.”

Norwegian firm Autoindustri AS has an import agreement in place. The firm is owned by Nils-Petter Gill, who also owns the import firm for Subaru in Norway. He also called the London el-cabs “very exciting,” telling DN that “we have interested Norwegian customers already. Hotel Britannia is evaluating buying one of the British el-cabs to transport its guests.”

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund