Of all the major cities in the world, London has the most iconic taxis -black diesel powered Austins with enough room in the back seat for a small circus troupe. London also has chronic smog problems that are not helped in the slightest by all those diesel taxis driving around the city 24 hours a day.
Now, according to the Christian Science Monitor, a private company is making a fleet of Nissan Leaf electric vehicles available for hire to private customers in London as an alternative to those traditional taxis. eConnect Cars is based in Canary Wharf in the heart of the London business district. They’ll offer the Leaf to customers who want to travel about the city in a zero emissions vehicle, while avoiding the $35.00 a day “congestion charge” imposed on private vehicles coming into London during regular business hours.
New Yorkers would say the eConnect Cars model is like one of the “car services”common in Manhattan. Instead of standing in the rain hoping to flag down a taxi, the customer calls eConnect, which sends a Leaf and a driver to a specific location at an agreed time, all stress free and civilized. Customers have a choice of a top of the line, leather trimmed model or a more plebeian car without the luxury trappings, equivalent to the Leaf S sold in the US.
The mayor of London has decreed that all cars for hire, whether public taxis or private cars, be zero emissions vehicles by 2018. That means the diesel powered Austin taxis will be a thing of the past in just a few short years, unpless plans to replace it with a plug-in hybrid version come to fruition. More likely, vehicles like the Nissan Leaf and e-NV200 will become the taxi of the future. Just ask New York.
Optimists say that meeting the challenges posed by climate change will create new business opportunities. The success of eConnect Cars suggests that the optimists may have a valid point.