Tuesday 8th June, 2010

A new greener black cab

Image courtesy Intelligent Energy.

A new environmentally-friendly version of London’s iconic black cab was unveiled yesterday by the Deputy Mayor Kit Malthouse.

When Malthouse and Dennis Hayter, vice president of business development at fuel cell maker Intelligent Energy, unveiled the cab, Hayter cautioned that it wasn’t going to look much different from a normal black cab.

By not changing the shape or design of the car’s structure, the Deputy Mayor hopes to keep one of the city’s most recognisable symbols alive, only in a cleaner, more environmentally friendly form.

“Those of you who are Londoners will have stood at the side of the road watching diesel black cabs belching fumes into the atmosphere,” Malthouse said. “I occasionally cycle to work and wind up behind them and inhale mouthfuls of this stuff which will probably show up on any x-ray.”

Fuelling stations for new cabs

The immediate goal of Intelligent Energy and the London Hydrogen Partnership – a grouping of manufacturers, local authorities, the police and other bodies -  is to get a small fleet of 20 cabs up and running by the time of the 2012 Olympics. The long term goal is to have all the current diesel cabs retired and replaced with hydrogen cell vehicles by 2020.

It has been proposed that six hydrogen fuel stations should be built around the city to accommodate the new eco-friendly cabs as well as Mayor Boris Johnson’s new Routemaster buses that will soon be coming to London’s streets. By building the stations early, Malthouse is embracing the ‘If you build it they will come’ philosophy.

Nevertheless, even he admits it’s a Catch-22: Simply because the stations are there doesn’t mean that the cabs will arrive. And just because they have a prototype for the cab, he acknowledges, it doesn’t mean the stations will be needed.

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