Electric vehicle manufacturers LEVC announced last month its plans to roll out a new SOA-based (Space Oriented Architecture) vehicle platform with new futuristic features.
The launch raised many questions from the UK taxi industry who rely on the Coventry based manufacturer for their cabs. How does the SOA platform fit into company plans for the industry? Can the recently launched platform cater for taxi markets around the UK?
The trade’s leading taxi news source asked LEVC to help us understand what the plans are for black cabs moving forward.
Here’s all the answers to some common questions...
DOES LEVC STILL PLAN TO OFFER FUTURE TAXI MODELS?
LEVC has more than a century of ‘mobility’ in its DNA and can trace its roots all the way back to the original Hackney Carriages of 1908. The launch of LEVC’s new pure electric platform, Space Oriented Architecture (SOA), enables the business to expand and grow beyond taxi manufacturing.
SOA will support a range of new pure electric models in addition to the TX. LEVC is committed to a long-term future of taxi models and the industry as a whole.
DOES THE SOA HAVE ADVANCED ‘TURNING CIRCLE’ CAPABILITIES REQUIRED FOR LONDON TAXI MARKET?
SOA enables us to expand and grow beyond taxi manufacturing. The platform has not been designed to accommodate London taxi-style turning circle capabilities.
CAN SOA BECOME WHEELCHAIR ACCESSIBLE?
SOA is the platform. Vehicles built on the SOA platform will offer an innovative, flexible, fully configurable architecture that optimises on-board space.
LEVC is not announcing any details about vehicles based on the new architecture at the moment.
WHAT LEVEL OF AUTONOMOUS CAPABILITIES WILL BE OFFERED TO THE UK TAXI INDUSTRY?
The new SOA platform is separate to the TX.
WHEN CAN WE EXPECT LEVC TO LAUNCH ITS FIRST NEW MODEL UNDER THIS NEW CHAPTER?
LEVC will reveal more detail on the first new vehicle to be based on SOA in the coming months.
WHEN DO LEVC PLAN TO CEASE PRODUCTION OF CURRENT TX RANGE?
The current TX is the ideal product for the UK taxi market. It offers customers low running costs, very low emissions, purpose-built wheelchair accessibility and no range anxiety, so remains LEVC’s focus.
WILL ALL LEVC VEHICLES BE PRODUCED IN COVENTRY PLANT MOVING FORWARDS?
The home of LEVC and the TX taxi is – and always will be – our headquarters and state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in Ansty, Coventry.
WILL LEVC BE OFFERING A VEHICLE TO THE UK PRIVATE HIRE / RIDE-SHARING SECTOR?
TX is LEVC’s taxi offering in the UK.
With all this in mind, and if the new SOA is not for the taxi industry... what next for the TX?
Soon after the launch of the LEVC SOA there were two significant updates for the TX. Both the hire light and electric range saw improvements. Arguably two of the trade’s biggest wish list improvements alongside reducing the cost of the vehicle.
The new taxi ‘peak’ is available to existing TX owners and is essentially a visor that goes over the orange for hire light that can be hard to see in bright conditions. Swiftly after the ‘peak’ arrival, LEVC announced an enhancement for its TX taxi and VN5 light van, with both vehicles now benefitting from a larger and more efficient battery.
The 34.6 kWh unit upgrades the eCity powertrain, offering increased capacity (up from 31 kWh) and greater efficiency. Using the new battery, the TX taxi now emits 14g/km of CO2 (down from 19g/km) and increase the electric -only range to 78 miles (up from 64 miles). Its total range increased to 333 miles (up from 318 miles).
Right now, the TX is the right model for the current EV landscape. Patchy and poorly maintained chargepoints would make it difficult for the industry to rely on a fully electric model even with huge range. At some point though cabbies will be looking for better
dashboard connectivity, higher battery range, even more cost efficiency and market competition. When that will come... who knows.