London’s Electric Black Cabs Are Heading to Berlin

(Bloomberg) -- The London EV Company Ltd. plans to start selling an electric version of the iconic black cab in Germany, targeting a slice of the nation’s taxi business -- dominated for decades by Daimler AG’s diesel vehicles.

As being green matters more and more to European consumers, LEVC plans to benefit from a partnership with Volvo AB to sell hundreds of its battery-run black cabs in Berlin and other German cities. The car is already ferrying passengers on the streets of Amsterdam and Oslo.

With Germany on course to miss its 2020 carbon emissions target, Chancellor Angela Merkel is pondering steps how to speed up reducing diesel pollution and greenhouse gas emissions in German cities. Europe’s biggest economy is already the region’s biggest consumer of renewable energy, with wind and solar at times providing the majority of the nation’s power.

“Everyone is realizing that the goals of the energy transition and improvement of air quality can only be achieved if more electric cars drive on German roads,” LEVC Chairman Carl-Peter Forster said in a statement. Both LEVC and Volvo are units of China’s Geely Automobile Holding Ltd.

Price concessions on new cabs offered to taxi companies by manufacturers from Daimler to Bayerische Motoren Werke AG help maintain the dominance of diesel and gasoline in running Berlin’s 8,160 cabs. But the pressure is intensifying on Merkel’s federal government and Germany’s 16 states to boost the use of electric vehicles, both public and private as pollution in the transport sector keeps rising.

The industry is Germany’s “problem child,” Environment Minister Svenja Schulz said in an interview published in Thursday’s Handelsblatt. The federal government supports the switch to clean buses and taxi fleets, she’s cited as saying.

Made in Coventry, England, LEVC’s latest TX model has a price tag of 59,600 euros ($69,660). That can be reduced by a 3,000-euro federal purchase subsidy and a 4,000-euro bonus payment from Berlin’s local government. LEVC said the TX can seat six people and has wifi installed.

The cabs have a range of 640 kilometers (337 miles) between charges and can tap over 400 rapid charging points in the German capital, according to the company.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.