News: car brand Nissan has unveiled a revised design for its new London taxi to replace the city's famous black cabs, having altered the look of the vehicle in an attempt "to better reflect the iconic nature of the traditional black cab" (+ slideshow).
The Nissan NV200 London Taxi will replace the UK capital's iconic TX4 taxis from December 2014 and the Japanese firm unveiled the redesign this morning at the firm's European design centre in Paddington, west London.
The vehicle is based on a van but has been remodelled since its launch in August 2012, when it was criticised for being simply a black version of the firm's taxis in New York, Barcelona and Tokyo.
"In response to feedback from the London Mayor's office, Transport for London and other key organisations which have put their backing behind the new taxi, Nissan has redesigned the vehicle to better reflect the iconic nature of the traditional black cab," the company said.
The new bespoke design for London features round headlamps, a remodelled grille and new front bumper panels. The update also ditches the previous diesel engine for a 1.6-litre petrol engine and an automatic gearbox, available from December 2014, and a zero-emissions electric version will be available in 2015.
"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," said Nissan's design excellence manager Darryl Scriven. "The main challenges were concerned with making sure customers can easily recognise it as a taxi."
"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," he added.
The NV200 seats five passengers including two flip-down seats facing the rear, access for wheelchairs and sliding doors for easy access in narrow spaces, and it adheres to Transport for London regulations requiring a 7.6-metre turning circle. The vehicles will be produced in Barcelona and assembled in London.
The new Nissan launch comes less than a year after Chinese brand Geely bought the makers of the traditional TX4 taxis Manganese Bronze, which still designs taxis using a similar basic structure to the first black cab from 1948, in a deal worth £11 million. The takeover followed the Coventry-based company going into administration in 2012.
There are currently around 20,000 black cabs - or hackney carriages - on the streets of London, but many will have to be retired as strict new emissions rules come into force.