VW Gets 'Serious' About Electric Taxi Concept, Shows Off Special London Edition

· · 7 years ago

VW Taxi Concept

At an event in London last week, Volkswagen revealed the third in a series of city-specific customizations of its electric Taxi Concept. According to Autocar, the commercial fleet EV is being “seriously considered” for production by VW executives, and could be well positioned to compete globally for large orders from cities looking to cut the emissions of their cabs. (A movement that's been a longer in the making than many might realize.)

The first Taxi Concept debuted in Milan this past April, followed by a June showing in Berlin. This time, the car was painted to pay homage to London's black cabs, which the company says were a major source of inspiration to its designers as they set out to create a modern dedicated plug-in that would meet the needs of passengers, fleet owners, and hacks alike.

VW Electric Taxi Milan Concept

VW Electric Taxi Milan Concept

VW Electric Taxi Berlin Concept

VW Electric Taxi Berlin Concept

In its preliminary research—much of which came from real-world studies of the habits of New York City yellow cabs—Volkswagen found that the average taxi trip transports just 1.4 people. This discovery lead designers to look to an idea first pioneered by the black cab: the front passenger seat storage area.

Where one would usually find a cab driver's clipboard, sweatshirt or perhaps half-eaten lunch, VW has placed a compartment for luggage. This gave designers the freedom to move the rear seating all the way to the back, providing more legroom. VW says it may offer an optional fourth seat if the car ever hits production, but thinks that its perfectly suited as is for the majority of fares.

VW Taxi Concept Rear Seat

The VW taxi's lithium ion battery pack is capable of providing upwards of 180 miles of range in ideal conditions, so understandably, the car is significantly heavier than the E-Up! city car on which it's powertrain is based. Volkswagen also seems to have tuned the vehicle specifically for city driving—with the car's maximum speed governed down by about 10 percent, to 75 mph.

At 12 feet in length, the vehicle's body is nearly a foot longer than the E-Up! and seems to be based more on VW's Space-Up! concept, which is the 4-door variant in the company's planned New Small Family vehicle series.

Features unique to the concept—other than having three seats of course—include a glass roof, sliding passenger-side door, rear LCD touchscreen, and repositioned C-pillar, (which was moved forward to provide even further legroom.)

Volkswagen has already entered into an agreement to supply New York with clean diesel Jetta TDI cabs as part of Mayor Michael Bloomberg's contentious efforts to green his city's taxis. Given the company's ties to the Big Apple and the role the city played in the development of the car, one can't help but wonder if perhaps we'll see a yellow checkered version of the Taxi Concept somewhere down the line. (The New York International Auto Show is just around the corner.)


· · 7 years ago

Heck with the Taxi idea! I want one of those for my family car!

· · 7 years ago

So, Europe gets the electric version and America gets the dirty fossil fuel version. Who could had guessed that???

· · 7 years ago

Yes, Darell, this would also suit me just fine. But, of course, this being Volkswagen, I'm guessing only fleet companies will be able to buy them . . . if they manage to get into production. Maybe a bunch of us here should start our own taxi company, buy a bunch and keep them for ourselves as private cars.

I've seen a few web articles about this one. Notice that it has a single conventionally dimensioned and hinged drivers-side door. Not shown in the photos here is an enormous passenger-side sliding door where all the passengers enter (curbside-only entry for the fares being a safety design feature.) What would normally be the front seat is the luggage area (shown in a photo, above.) Unusually, the back end is completely sealed . . . no hatchback there.

On the upside, James, Zach's article points out that New York is currently getting diesel Jettas cabs, not a diesel version of the above concept. Given how this concept taxi is laid out, I don't think that configuring it for alternate ICE power is even in the cards. So, there may be some hope that these will really be out there someday.

I should mention, for the record, that I was a cab driver back in the late 1970s. I'd like the green colored Berlin model and, for old times sake,
the meter and the rooftop light.

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