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Wheelchair accessible vehicles

Nissan NV200 Taxi for London revealed

Posted by admin on 6th January 2014

Source: Autocar

Nissan is planning an assault on the London black cab market with this new purpose-built model based on its NV200 platform.

The new ‘Taxi for London’ is claimed to have a number of advantages over the traditional TX4 London cab, including notably lower running costs and a level of reliability ‘that comes from being derived from a global mainstream vehicle’ rather than a low-production bespoke vehicle.

The Nissan NV200 Taxi for London follows similar NV200-based taxis for New York, Tokyo and Barcelona, and will go on sale in December 2014 in 1.6-litre petrol engine form. It has been designed by Nissan’s London design studio in Paddington, and is also set to undergo final assembly in the UK, too, although the base NV200 is made at Nissan’s plant near Barcelona.

The design of the taxi includes several nods to the classic black cab, including in its chrome-heavy front grille and round headlamps – the latter units taken from Nissan’s Juke model, although there’s no Nissan badge on the front.

The distinctive flared front wings have to accommodate the wider track of a new front suspension system, which is unique to the London version of this Nissan. This was designed to meet the TfL 7.6m taxi turning circle regulations. The raised ride height also allows the car to offer the minimum 10in ground clearance requirement.

Darryl Scriven, Nissan’s London-based design excellence manager told Autocar that the new taxi was developed at Nissan’s Paddington design studio, in close consultation with Transport for London, the Mayor’s office, disabled groups and London cab drivers.

Detail additions include running boards, an LED taxi light on the roof (which is easier to see when illuminated during the day) and twin, wider, sliding rear doors for wheelchair access. Driver comfort is also being flagged up as an asset, thanks to the ‘superior’ seats and adjustable steering column. Passengers in the capital also get to a better look at the city thanks to a panoramic glass roof.

Power for the taxi comes from a 113bhp, 117lb ft, 1.6-litre petrol engine mated to a CVT gearbox. Economy figures have yet to be announced, but up to 40mpg is expected, with particulate (10mg/km) and NOx emissions emissions (1.0mg/km) significantly lower than traditional diesel taxis, which are a significant contributor to the poor air quality in central London. The Nissan’s real world economy is expected to be much better than today’s TX4 diesel cab, partly because the TX4 weighs nearly two tonnes.

An electric version of the NV200 Taxi for London will be launched by 2015, according to Andy palmer, Nissan’s global planning boss. It will use much of the battery and EV technology from the Leaf hatchback.

There are around 20,000 black cabs on London’s roads, but upcoming emissions regulations will soon force many of the older cabs off the road, with Nissan targeting a significant share of the market this will open up. The lack of a diesel-powered version of the Nissan taxi also suggests that the capital’s authorities are trying to squeeze oil-burning cabs off the roads over the next decade.

The taxis will be sold exclusively by Nissan franchise dealer Glyn Hopkin in a purpose built facility in Canary Wharf. Prices are tipped to be competitive with the existing LT1 TX4 taxi, starting at an estimated £30,000. Servicing costs are also expected to be lower than the competition, thanks to touches such as 14in wheels, which will reduce tyre replacement costs.

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First look at new ELECTRIC ‘black’ taxis – due for London trials next year

Posted by admin on 20th December 2013

Source: London Evening Standard

London mayor Boris Johnson has been given an exclusive preview – and impromptu ‘roadtest’ – of a ‘clean’ new electric-powered black cab planned to revolutionise travel in the capital next year.

Designed and built in Britain, the all-new zero-emission Range-Extended Electric Metrocab (REE) runs on a powerful, near-silent electric motor.

Drivers will be able to slash their running costs by charging the taxi’s lithium-ion polymer batteries at home on a standard three-pin plug, or by topping up at designated charging posts around London.

Even on long runs the new-generation Metrocab will never run out of electricity: its bank of batteries will also be re-charged by a small ‘range-extender’ petrol engine shoehorned under the bonnet. The engine kicks in to generate fresh electricity when the batteries become depleted.

The Metrocab’s makers – Ecotive, and Frazer-Nash Research based at Mytchett, in Surrey – claim their new taxi will drive down costs for drivers while delivering enhanced comfort and performance.

They say it is ‘street ready’ and that it will undergo trials in London early next year. If it proves successful it will go on sale in 2014 for the same price as the rival diesel-powered TX-4 cab that is produced in Coventry, with parts from China, by the Geely Group. The Metrocab would become the first electric cab on sale in London.

It was unveiled to Mr Johnson at a car park near City Hall last night.

An observer told the Standard: “Mr Johnson couldn’t resist jumping in and driving it around the carpark to see what it was like.” He was accompanied in the cab by Frazer-Nash chairman Kamal Siddiqi.

Metrocab chairman, Sir Charles Masefield, told the Standard: “ The Metrocab is designed as the next-generation taxi and represents a revolution in the market as the first electric-powered cab to meet the duty cycle of a London taxi, where cabbies typically drive many miles outside the city, making pure electric cars impractical with current technology and infrastructure.

“Ready now, our … technology offers the solution London and other world-class cities are looking for.”

Power will be delivered to the vehicle’s rear wheels from two electric motors. Its makers claim that the passenger compartment, with seating for six, has generous ‘panoramic’ glazing for good views out. They says it has increased luggage space compared with the previous, discontinued Metrocab, and full disabled access. Metrocab will reveal further details next year when London trials begin, but say the vehicle fully complies with Public Carriage Office rules, including the tight turning circle required for the capital.

Frazer-Nash has developed electric and hybrid-electric drivetrains for quarter of a century. It was an Official Vehicle Partner with its fleets of electric vehicles to the Olympic Games in Sydney and the Commonwealth Games.

Steve McNamara, Licensed Taxi Drivers Association General Secretary, told the Standard: “The cab trade welcomes clean, green technology. However it is important that this vehicle proves to be durable first, for service in London.”

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Faulty steering on London black cabs now fixed

Posted by admin on 18th December 2012

Administrators for Manganese Bronze, which went into administration in October after taxi sales were suspended, said that all 401 vehicles were now back on the road

More than 400 taxis that were recalled due to faulty steering have been fixed, two months after they were taken off the road owing to safety fears.

The recall by taxi maker Manganese Bronze led to its collapse into administration in October after sales of the faulty vehicles were suspended.

Negotiations to find a buyer continue, and 12 production staff who were laid off have been re-employed to fit the new steering boxes.

The company’s administrators, PricewaterhouseCoopers, said all 401 cabs were back on the road and workers at its Coventry production line will start to fix the 600 largely new and unregistered vehicles affected.

However, 99 of 176 employees were made redundant following the appointment of the administrators.

Matthew Hammond, PwC partner and joint administrator, said he was delighted the taxis were now repaired. He added: “Although it’s too early to say definitively, we are hopeful that we will sell the business as a going concern.”

The second phase of fixing the remaining taxis should be completed by the end of February and at a faster rate than the first 401, because most are in the single location on the production line.

It took the company, which built its first black cab in 1948, nearly a month to find a solution to the steering box issues on its TX4 models and another month to fix the vehicles affected.

Posted in Vehicle licensing, Vehicle safety, WAVs | No Comments »

Manganese Bronze makes 156 redundancies

Posted by admin on 31st October 2012

Source: BBC Online

The administrators of Manganese Bronze, the Coventry-based company that makes London black cabs, are making 156 staff redundant with immediate effect. The announcement from PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) comes just a day after it said it was in talks with an “encouraging” list of parties interested in the company’s rescue.

The redundancies account for more than half of the firm’s 274 UK employees. The Unite union said it was outraged at the “ruthless sacking” of staff.

PwC were officially appointed as administrators of the firm on Tuesday and had said they were looking at options to dispose of the business to an investor who could secure the future manufacturing of the black cab.

They said they had been appointed due to a “combination of poor UK sales, supply chain issues, and high warranty costs”, compounded by accounting errors discovered in the first half of 2012 and the discovery of a steering fault that led to the recall of about 400 vehicles and a suspension of sales.

But in a statement on Wednesday, PwC said: “Regretfully, without financial support to overcome the group’s operational issues we have had to make staff redundancies. “While the steering box recall remains, there is a voluntary suspension on vehicle sales, and we are now concentrating all resources on testing the solution to the steering fault.

“We have retained sufficient numbers of staff across the dealership, head office and production network to address the operational, technical and financial circumstances that the business faces.”

Unite national officer for the automotive industry, Roger Maddison, said: “Only last night PwC were telling us there were significant interested parties. Now the administrators are ruthlessly sacking over 150 highly skilled workers at the iconic black cab maker.

“The black cabs are world famous and we believe this company has a future. How can PwC treat this company as a going concern with virtually no staff? “The black cab is part of Britain’s car manufacturing heritage. The government must now be on standby to save this historic company from being left to the vultures.

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Manganese Bronze calls in administrators

Posted by admin on 22nd October 2012

Source: Reuters

Manganese Bronze, maker of London’s black taxi, said it is set to appoint administrators after failing to secure funding needed to survive, putting hundreds of British jobs at risk.

Manganese Bronze, whose taxis have been on British streets since 1948, had been in talks with its largest shareholders, including China’s Geely Automobile Holdings Ltd, to secure a last-minute bailout.

“The issue here was not a lack of opportunity around the quantum of support being offered,” Chief Executive John Russell told Reuters on Monday. “It was around the ability of Manganese Bronze, a company with a very weak balance sheet, to take on the level of debt required.”

Russell said the company had discussed an injection of “tens of millions” of pounds with parties including the company’s two largest shareholders, Geely and Toscafund Asset Management. Accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers is set to be appointed as administrator.

Earlier this month, the company had said its financial position was unclear after the discovery of a safety defect in its new TX4 model that led to a recall of 400 taxis and a halt to sales.

The recall was the latest in a spate of issues that have plagued the taxi maker which coincided with market share gains by rival Eco City Vehicles’s Mercedes Vito taxi. Japan’s Nissan Motor Co Ltd is also due to launch its own taxi in Britain.

Manganese Bronze, based in Coventry, in central England, has failed to turn a profit since 2007. It suspended trading in its shares earlier this month.

“It’s a great shame, because they (Manganese Bronze) build the best cab in the world, but it’s no surprise. They never listened to the drivers,” said Michael, driver of a Manganese cab in the capital for 30 years. He pointed to the cost of the vehicles (at least 37,000 pounds per car), high maintenance bills and a lack of after sales support.

“They took it for granted, were too complacent, thought we’d always go back to them and buy another cab but the drivers aren’t doing that anymore.”

Britain’s Unite union called on the British government to support the firm and protect the 300 UK jobs at risk.

“We’re hopeful that somehow or another somebody’s going to be able to resurrect it, either the liquidators or someone’s going to come in and take it over,” said Steve MacNamara, general secretary of the Licensed Taxi Drivers Association. “We’re concerned because the black cab is a great iconic part of London.”

As well as technical difficulties, Manganese has been hit by a weak economy and delays in fulfilling key orders. Manganese Bronze sold 1,502 taxis last year, 9 percent fewer than in 2010.

Earlier this year, it found a 3.9 million pound hole in its accounts causing a delay to the release of its half year results. They were eventually published late last month with the firm reporting a pretax loss of 4.6 million pounds on sales 11 percent lower than the same period a year ago.

Russell said it was still “in dialogue” with Geely after talks over funding broke down last week. “Geely will be involved in the process of administration and they will make their decision to be a part of the outcome,” said Russell.

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Blackburn family’s anger after taxis refuse to carry wheelchair user

Posted by admin on 20th October 2012

Source: Lancashire Telegraph

A FAMILY said they were left angry and embarrassed when two specially adapted black cabs refused to carry their wheelchair user son. Blackburn mum Anette McDermott and her son Darrell, 26, were shopping with their disabled son and brother Ashley, 24 when they claim they were told, ‘I don’t do wheelchairs’ by one driver and waved away by a second.

The pair said both drivers outside Blackburn market were driving newer model cabs, designed to accommodate wheelchairs. Now Blackburn with Darwen Council is set to investigate what happened.

The trio were laden down with bags and were looking for a disability adapted cab in order to get Ashley, who suffers from cerebral palsy and epilepsy, home. Their story has angered disability campaigner and former Hyndburn mayor Malcolm Pritchard who said the licences of the drivers involved should be investigated.

The McDermotts said the first cab driver, whose taxi was equipped with a ramp, gave no reason for his refusal while another with an adapted taxi said he had an injured arm. Darrell, 26, who is his brother’s full time carer, said: “Ashley knew he was being turned down for a cab and it was upsetting for him. The first guy who turned us away just waved at us and didn’t give a reason, even though his taxi has a ramp.

“The second one said ‘I don’t do wheelchairs’ and another driver said he had a bad arm and couldn’t lift anything. “I explained I would do all the lifting, but that wasn’t good enough. He just wouldn’t let us.”

Anette, who works full time with disabled children at Oswaldtwistle’s Hargreaves House, said the cab drivers’ refusal to let them in the taxi caused an embarrassing scene which upset her son. She said: “People were starting to gather and stare and we just had to walk away.”

Coun Pritchard, whose son Mark is also a wheelchair user, said: “I think this family having to go through this is disgusting. They deserve to be treated with a bit of dignity and not discriminated against in that way. I think the provision of cabs and drivers for the disabled in Blackburn needs to be urgently looked into to.”

Blackburn with Darwen Council said it was illegal for drivers to refuse to carry a wheelchair user without a medical exemption certificate and they would fully investigate all complaints.

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