Eco City Vehicles PLC (ECV), a developer and supplier of eco-friendly commercial vehicles and the London licensed taxi, launched an all-electric prototype of the London-licensed Mercedes Vito taxi, developed by a consortium of companies including ECV’s manufacturing partner Penso, Mercedes Benz UK and Zytek Automotive.
The eVito Taxi is powered by a 70 kW Zytek electric drive system, driving the front wheels through a custom designed Vocis/Graziano transmission. A 38 kWh Valence Li-Ion battery power pack installed in a weatherproof enclosure beneath the floor allows the internal space of the taxi to remain unaffected by the electric conversion. The vehicle has a top speed of up to 75 mph.
With zero road emissions, it is also expected to be fully compliant with the Mayor of London’s proposed new clean air standards for London taxis, due to be introduced in time for the London Olympics.
The eVito taxi program has been part-funded by a £2.5-million (US$3.9-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.
The Vito, co-developed by ECV with One80 Ltd and Mercedes Benz, was launched in June 2008 as an alternative to the old-style TX4 taxi. Since then it has captured a more than 30% share of new “black cab” taxi sales in London. The Group has also launched a 3.5 tonne series hybrid Mitsubishi truck in the UK.
One80 Ltd provides its patented rear-wheel steering technology for the eVito as well as the Vito taxi, enabling the vehicle to meet the Public Carriage Office requirement for a minimum turning circle of 25 feet.
Later this year, the consortium plans to conduct controlled trials to confirm eVito’s suitability for road usage as a London licensed taxi.
Penso, based in Coventry, is an advanced engineering and niche manufacturing group of companies, providing products and services to mainstream and low volume OEMs globally. Penso manufactures the Vito Taxi for Eco City Vehicles and has been one of the lead partners responsible for the delivery of the eVito taxi prototype.