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INTERVIEW: ‘LEVC will have a full battery electric taxi in the future‘ says Hofmann CEO

British electric taxi manufacturers LEVC have been busy turning the black cab industry green ever since the first LEVC TX was licensed in the capital back in January 2018. Since then, over 5,000 vehicles have been sold across the world.

Joerg Hofmann, LEVC’s CEO, joined the Coventry based manufacturers in February 2019 and has had to oversee a turbulent pandemic for both the taxi industry and the motoring sector.

How do you see LEVC recovering in the short and long term from the impact of coronavirus? Are you expecting a spike in demand for the LEVC TX?

The pandemic has had a severe impact on our business and, like many other British brands, we unfortunately did not qualify for any of the available government loan guarantee. This has added further pressure on our business operations and financial situation, and we have been working week by week to get through the pandemic.

The market recovery is much slower than we first expected and what is very clear is that we need tourism to return and for regular business travel in our cities to start up again. With lockdown restrictions easing and the success of the vaccination rollout, the general mood is certainly more positive now and we are seeing demand return for our product. The iconic black cab is a celebrated and integral part of city life, and this will not change!

Why did LEVC choose to release a taxi with a range extender rather than a fully electric vehicle?

We believe our range-extended eCity powertrain is the right technology for now. It offers the best of both worlds: zero-emission capability with zero range anxiety. TX gives the driver complete flexibility, without the need to worry about downtime or having to turn down a fare due to a lack of range. It is proven technology that truly works for a commercial operator.

Are there any immediate or long-term plans for a fully electric LEVC TX?

LEVC will have a full battery electric taxi in the future, this is our clear future product strategy. I can’t commit to a timing at this stage, but I am certainly comfortable that we will bring this product to market when the range, performance and battery costs as well as the charging infrastructure are all optimised.

What is your view on the current EV chargepoint network? Do you think Governments and Local Authorities can do more, and what one improvement would you like to see?

Charging infrastructure is a key factor in the mass adoption of EV’s. Up until now progress has been fairly slow, which is why there is a need for transitional technology like LEVC’s eCity powertrain, to eliminate any range-anxiety for drivers. Ultimately, for commercial vehicle operators, it comes down to convenience and efficiency, drivers can’t spend hours charging their vehicles or searching for available charging points - they have businesses to run and downtime must be kept to a minimum. We must see more rapid charger infrastructure put in place within the next few years.

Do you think we are likely to see wireless EV chargepoints in the UK?

There are several LEVC TXs involved in wireless charging projects in both Nottingham and in Germany, to investigate the feasibility of intelligent wireless taxi charging platforms. It seems like an interesting solution and could be a good concept for taxis, we will have to wait and see how the technology develops.

Finally, what do you think is the LEVC TX’s biggest selling point?

I am proud to be part of a company that has produced an iconic vehicle with such a rich heritage. One of the reasons I think the product has been so successful for so long is that it has always been purpose built to meet the harsh demands of city travel and offers unrivalled accessibility for all customers.

Our electric TX is our most advanced taxi yet and one of the biggest selling points is that it offers no compromises - zero-emission capability without range-anxiety. Importantly, our new TX delivers new levels of comfort, convenience, and practicality for the driver - our research also tells us that TX drivers feel more focused, calmer and also less tired at the end of their shift compared to their experience with the previous diesel models. TX also offers significant financial savings - the move to electric has seen drivers save on average £110 a week in fuel.


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