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ELECTRIC METROCAB: A decade on from the first glimpse of the black taxi that never was

Image credit: Frazer Nash

It is almost a DECADE since ex-London Mayor Boris Johnson took an exclusive first look at a all-new Range-Extended Electric (REE) Metrocab from UK-based Ecotive and its technology partner Frazer-Nash Research.

The former Prime Minister also got behind the wheel for a short drive in the nearby car park at City Hall, demonstrating that the Metrocab is ready for market.

Designed, engineered and built in-house by Ecotive and Frazer-Nash in Mytchett, Surrey, the new taxi for London was trialled in 2014.

At the time Boris Johnson said in 2013: “Ecotive, with technical expertise from Frazer-Nash, has designed a unique and purpose-built new Metrocab taxi for London with zero emissions capabilities, which is exactly the type of vehicle I would be delighted to see entering the market.”

In 2013 Metrocab Chairman Sir Charles Masefield said: “The Metrocab is designed as the next-generation London taxi and represents a revolution in the market as the first electric-powered cab to meet the duty cycle of a London taxi, where cabbies typically drive many miles from outside the city – making pure electric cars impractical with current technology and infrastructure. Ready now, our range extended drivetrain technology offers the solution London and other world-class cities are looking for. We are confident Metrocab will make a real impact in the market and provide a better service to cities, drivers and passengers alike.”

The Metrocab from Ecotive and Frazer-Nash was seen to provide the latest in electric powered transport solutions. Priced competitively to enter the London taxi market, the Metrocab was powered by a lithium-ion polymer battery pack with an electric motor to each of the rear wheels.

What happened to the taxi?

At the start of 2014, the all-new, purpose-built Range Extended Electric (REE) Metrocab taxi was revealed publicly for the first time by the then London Mayor, Boris Johnson, during a presentation on zero emissions taxis.

The British designed, engineered and built Metrocab, from Ecotive and Frazer-Nash, was a new generation zero-emissions electric-powered taxi, representing the cutting edge of green transport technology.

At the presentation the London Mayor announced that all new London taxis will need to be zero emission capable from 2018 as part of a pledge made the year before to introduce an Ultra Low Emission Zone in central London by 2020.

The Metrocab's REE technology delivered a range of 560km, typically saving a London taxi driver £20-£40 per day based on the average day and night duty cycle in the capital.

So why did this vehicle never make it onto UK roads? Mounting debts and a copyright infringement case, which they defended and won, slowed down the production of the taxi.

Frazer Nash, the owners of Metrocab, were ordered to be “wound up” by a High Court judge in 2018 after owing what is believed to have been more than £1.5million in unpaid debts.

However, according to an article in the LTDA TAXI magazine in Autumn 2018, they remained optimistic that the project was still on course to enter the taxi market despite several setbacks. Nothing has been heard since.


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