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Black cabs not unique, high court rules, paving way for ‘green’ taxis

Posted by admin on 22nd January 2016

Source: The Guardian

A high court judge has ruled that one of London’s most famous sights, the black cab, is not that unique after all, concluding that they are “devoid of inherent distinctive character”.

Mr Justice Arnold said that the taxis are “merely a variation of the typical shape of a car” and ruled that trademarks exclusively relating to its shape should be deemed invalid.

He made the judgment on Wednesday after a legal row between the manufacturer of the traditional London taxi and the group behind a new eco-friendly cab. The ruling paves the way for the “green” taxis to hit London’s roads over the next few years.

Arnold said: “In my view the CTM [the design of the black cab] would have been perceived by the average consumer of taxis as merely a variation of the typical shape of a taxi.

“I should make it clear that, if one considers the question from the perspective of the average consumer of cars, in my view the CTM would be perceived as merely a variation of the typical shape of a car.”

The two trademarks in question during the hearing related to three-dimensional drawings of the exterior of the typical black cab.

The London Taxi Company, which is owned by Chinese group Geely, had claimed the new Metrocab was “substantially copied” from the design of the TX4, the latest version of the hackney carriage.

The Metrocab is a hybrid-powered taxi developed by Frazer-Nash Research and Ecotive. The zero-emissions vehicle uses an electric battery and a petrol engine, which extends the range of the battery.

The judge dismissed fraud allegations by the London Taxi Company as “deeply implausible” and said that even if the trademarks were valid then the Metrocab was not simply a copy of the TX4.

The Metrocab is scheduled to go into bulk production later this year and is at the forefront of a drive by Boris Johnson, the mayor of London, to ensure that all new taxis are zero-emission by 2018. Geely has pledged to invest £250m into a new facility in Coventry to produce greener versions of its black cab.

Peter Johansen, the chief executive of the London Taxi Company, said: “We are understandably disappointed by the judge’s ruling. We will review the ruling to determine our way forward.”

The London Taxi Company has been in operation since 1899, with black cabs going on to become one of the symbols of London.

A fleet of black cabs featured in the closing ceremony for the London 2012 Olympics, and last year it was voted as London’s favourite transport “design icon” in a survey conducted by Transport for London (TfL) and the London Transport Museum.

It represents another blow for the traditional London taxi as it battles against the rise of Uber, the car-hire smartphone app.

TfL announced on Wednesday that after conducting a consultation it would not be introducing proposed new regulations that would have affected Uber, including forcing minicab operators to provide booking confirmation details to the passenger at least five minutes before a journey starts.

The high court decision follows a similar ruling on Wednesday about KitKat, with the same judge deciding that Nestlé could not trademark the shape of its chocolate bar.

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Nissan’s new London Taxi project postponed

Posted by admin on 23rd November 2014

Source: Auto Express

Nissan has suspended development of its new London black cab, because it won’t meet standards for the planned Ultra-Low Emission Zone

Nissan’s controversial design for a new black cab for London appears to be on hold and will remain so unless the proposed Ultra Low Emission Zone in London is not given the go ahead. The taxi design, which features a petrol engine, can’t meet the tough vehicle emissions standards for central London that will be brought in if the emissions zone is signed off.

The news comes as a blow for plans to replace the popular but ageing current black cab, and it appears that London Mayor Boris Johnson’s own proposal to make all London taxis zero-emissions capable by 2018 is to blame. Nissan’s design, based on its NV200 van-based MPV, is powered by a 1.6-litre petrol engine mated to a CVT gearbox and the powertain can’t be adapted meet the proposed emissions standards.

Although the Nissan taxi claims to offer considerably better fuel economy and emissions than the 32mpg and 233g/km of CO2 the current TX4 diesel black cab manages, it seems the firm would have to completely re-engineer the vehicle if the proposed zero-emission zones come into effect.

The proposals, drawn up by London Mayor Boris Johnson, include charging owners of old diesel cars up to £20 every time they drive into the capital. The Mayor also hopes to have 7,000 zero-emissions capable taxis on London streets by 2020.

James Wright, Managing Director of Nissan Motor GB says that the firm has “suspended the project until the regulation of the market has been decided”. The NV200 taxi is already in service in cities such as New York and Barcelona, but a raft of styling and engineering changes were being made for the London version.

The decision to completely postpone the project until the ULEZ is confirmed could be seen as unusual, as Nissan has already developed and launched an electric version of the car, called the e-NV200, which would presumably meet these emissions standards.

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Reforming the regulation of taxis and private hire vehicles

Posted by admin on 22nd May 2014

Law Commission Press Release – 23rd May 2014

Taxis and private hire services, which include minicabs, are an essential link in the transport network of England and Wales, with passengers spending in excess of £2.5 billion a year on fares.

But the law that governs how the taxi and private hire trades operate is old, inconsistent and struggling to deal with internet-driven changes in passenger behaviour.

In a report published today, the Law Commission is recommending reforms that would update the law and make it clearer for those working in the taxi and private hire trades and their passengers.

The Commission’s report recognises the value to passenger choice of the two-tier system of private hire vehicles – which must be pre-booked, and taxis – which can use ranks or ply for immediate hire. It makes recommendations to retain and reinforce the distinction.

Passenger safety is at the forefront of the Commission’s reforms. It is recommending that standards be set nationally for public safety, accessibility and environmental impact. For the first time, passengers of taxis and private hire vehicles could confidently expect consistent levels of safety and quality wherever they travel. Under the reforms:

· all private hire vehicles, including stretch limos and other “novelty” vehicles, would be subject to the same standards, wherever they operate

· taxis would be subject to a comparable set of standards, which could be added to locally, allowing licensing authorities to choose to set higher standards where they want to, and

· local licensing authorities would have the power to inspect and, if necessary suspend, any vehicles working within their areas, wherever they are licensed.

These reforms would not impact on the famous black cabs in London, where standards of safety and accessibility are already high. But pedicabs in the capital will fall within taxi licensing for the first time, allowing Transport for London to set appropriate standards. Cars used for weddings and funerals, however, will continue to be exempt from regulation.

Among the measures designed to improve the accessibility of services for disabled people, the Commission is recommending a national requirement for taxi and private hire drivers to take disability awareness training. And local licensing authorities would be able to impose a duty on taxis to stop when they are hailed, bringing to an end the unacceptable practice of drivers passing by disabled people.

There would be stiffer penalties, too, for touting (actively soliciting customers), which poses a significant safety risk. Under the Commission’s reforms, licensing authorities would be given the power to impound any vehicles used in connection with touting.

Passengers are increasingly turning to the internet to book their taxi and private hire services. In a move to help the private hire trade respond, the Law Commission is recommending that operators should no longer be barred from accepting bookings or using drivers and vehicles from outside their licensing areas.

Licensing authorities should be able to continue to limit taxi numbers, provided they conduct a regular review of the service being provided. Restrictions on the numbers of taxis in some areas have led to inflated “plate values”. To protect the investment of existing drivers, the Commission recommends that the trade in licences should be allowed to continue. But, in areas where quantity restrictions are introduced for the first time, licenses should not be tradeable.

Nicholas Paines QC, the Law Commissioner leading on the project, says:

“The taxi and private hire trades are of enormous value to England and Wales. They provide a living for thousands of operators and drivers, and many more thousands of people depend on them to go about their daily lives.

“The reforms we are recommending will clarify the legal distinction between taxis and private hire services, and retain the valuable qualities of both. They will equip operators, drivers and their vehicles to meet the demands of a modern passenger-service trade, while making passenger safety and accessibility paramount.”

Notes for editors

The Law Commission is a non-political independent body, set up by Parliament in 1965 to keep all the law of England and Wales under review, and to recommend reform where it is needed.
We estimate that £2.72 billion was spent by UK households on taxi journeys in 2012 based on ONS estimates of household expenditure on transport services (which covers transport by bus, coach, taxi and hire car with driver) of £7.78 billion for the same period. See
For more details on this project, visit
For all press queries please contact:
Phil Hodgson, Head of External Relations: 020 3334 3305

Jackie Samuel: 020 3334 3648


Law Commission Taxi and Private Hire Report

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Posted in Customer service, Driver licensing, Fares, Fit and proper?, Licence fees, Licence quotas, Licensing administration, Limos, Non-standard vehicles, Operator licensing, Ranks and access, Signage and markings, Vehicle licensing, Vehicle safety, WAVs | Comments Off on Reforming the regulation of taxis and private hire 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.

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