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Taxi Wars #6: Nissan NV200 Hackney Carriage Shows Its Face

Sections: Chassis, Powertrain

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Nissan NV200 Hackney Carriage

Nissan unveiled the new face of its NV200-based Taxi for London, re-designed to fit the profile of the capital’s iconic black cabs. Pictured is an all-electric, zero-emission model Nissan says will come later, with the goal of having an e-NV200-based Hackney Carriage plying the streets of a British city by 2015, according to a press release. (Photo courtesy Nissan)

Amid our stream of CES coverage, allow me to do my best John Cleese by saying, “And now for something completely different:” The Nissan NV200 Hackney Carriage had its official unveiling this week.

The press release from Nissan said the NV200 Taxi was modified to meet the expectations of the London black cab market and was originally shown in August, 2012. It then underwent a lengthy testing phase as Nissan gathered feedback from stakeholders including the London Mayor’s office and Transport for London. Based on that feedback, the release said the NV200 Taxi was redesigned “to better reflect the iconic nature of the traditional black cab.”

Nissan Motor Corporation Chief Planning Officer and Executive Vice President Andy Palmer said, “Since we launched our Taxi for London in August 2012, we have worked closely with the Mayor’s office and associated stakeholders and interested parties to ensure that Nissan’s new cab not only raises the bar for both driver and passenger, but is also as instantly recognizable as its legendary forebears.

“Alongside this, our engineers at Nissan Technical Centre Europe in Cranfield, Bedfordshire, have continued work on the cab, running real-world trials on the streets of London,” Palmer added.

The NV200 Hackney Carriage gets a 1.6-liter gasoline engine mated to an automatic transmission at first, but a zero-emission electric version of the taxi will launch in 2015, the automaker said. Nissan said while the use of gasoline — petrol to you Redcoats — goes against the grain of mostly diesel-powered cabs in the city in the past, it will be cleaner, belching out fewer oxides of nitrogen and particulate emissions. The NV200 Taxi reportedly conforms to a Transport for London requirement that black cabs must have a 25-foot (or less, presumably) turning circle, which should make the little van nimble in the tight traffic congestion for which the city is (in)famous.

So in some sense — especially where the drivetrain is concerned — the NV200 in Hackney Carriage trim is a unique vehicle under its skin compared to other London taxis. But it’s the skin itself that is most unique when Nissan’s NV200 Hackney Carriage is compared to other NV200 Taxi models found in New York City, Tokyo, and Barcelona. Among the most notable exterior changes made to fit the NV200 into the average Londoner’s ideal of a black cab, according to Nissan:

  • Round headlamps and a re-modeled grille mirroring the traditional black cab “face”
  • LED lighting to improve visibility of the traditional taxi sign
  • Completely new front bumper panels

Nissan Design Europe Design Excellence Manager Darryl Scriven said, “Having already overcome the unique technical challenges presented by the development of a new Hackney Carriage for London ahead of our launch of the vehicle in August 2012, we turned our attention to making the vehicle look the part. The Mayor’s office and taxi drivers were very keen that we maintain the character of the Hackney Carriage, making it something that people in the city can be proud of.

“The main challenges were concerned with making sure customers can easily recognize it as a taxi. Being in London, we were able to go out and talk to cabbies about what was important to them as well as look at the vehicle from a customer’s viewpoint. It’s unusual for us to be able to work on something as bespoke as this, specifically for one location in the world and we are very proud to have been asked to do so,” Scriven added.

The NV200 Hackney Carriage will go on sale in London in December 2014, the press release said.

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