A revolutionary all-electric taxi with the potential to transform the way people use public transport was unveiled in the West Midlands today by Regional Minister Ian Austin MP.
The ‘E Vito taxi’ - a prototype developed by a consortium including automotive engineering specialists Zytek and technology experts Penso – can transport up to 6 passengers in comfort over a range of 120 miles from a single 6-hour full charge and is licensed for use in London.
Speaking at the demonstration event in Lichfield, Staffordshire Ian Austin MP said: “The taxi cab is an iconic vehicle that makes personal transport accessible to all.
“It’s therefore highly appropriate that such a widely used mode of transport has become the first vehicle to incorporate this innovative ‘market-ready’ technology - which could potentially be introduced in time to serve the many thousands of tourists visiting the capital for the 2012 Olympics.”
The West Midlands is home to the largest cluster of automotive businesses in the UK, responsible for 28 per cent of all automotive output (£13 billion) and over 60% of the industry’s research and development. It’s therefore perhaps unsurprising that the E Vito’s advanced technology has been developed within the region.
Neil Cheeseman, programme manager at Zytek Automotive, said: “The range and performance of the E Vito make it perfect for inner city transport: not only does it deliver a significant reduction in CO2 emissions but also significant costs savings (a full charge costs less than £2.50) which can be passed on to users in the form of reduced fares.
Zytek is one of the world’s most experienced developers of powertrains for electric vehicles and works closely with vehicle manufacturers on several production programmes.
“The Zytek electric drive system used in the E Vito taxi is suitable for a variety of passenger car and light commercial vehicle applications. Today’s demonstration highlights that the E Vito taxi is both viable and relatively simple to put into production.”
The E Vito taxi meets all of the legislative requirements of the Public Carriage Office and incorporates the 38kWh Valence Li-Ion battery power pack installed in a weatherproof enclosure beneath the vehicle floor, so the internal space of the taxi will remain unaffected by the electric conversion, not compromising luggage space and also improving vehicle stability.
The vehicle, is capable of up to 75 mph, powered by the innovative 70kW Zytek electric drive system, driving the front wheels through a custom designed Vocis/Graziano transmission. The vehicle not only generates zero tailpipe emissions but also very low noise pollution.
The E Vito taxi programme has been part-funded by a £2.5 million grant from regional development agency Advantage West Midlands (AWM) whose Advantage Niche Vehicle Research & Development Programme (NVRDP) brought together the necessary expertise from Zytek, Penso and fellow consortium members: Vocis/Graziano, Valence Technology and Mercedes Benz UK - which donated the Vito platform that underwent the electric transformation.
Julia Chance, programme manager for Cenex which delivers the NVRDP, added: “The companies in the consortium behind the E Vito taxi are among 25 businesses that have received assistance from the Niche Vehicle Programme since its launch in 2008.
“Collaborative projects like the E Vito taxi, Westfield Sportscars’ recently launched iRACER (an electric racecar) and hydrogen fuel cell-powered vehicles from Microcab are creating and safeguarding jobs as well as highlighting the UK’s expertise in low carbon vehicles on the world stage.”