Gallery: Fuel Cell Taxis Unveiled for 2012 London Olympics


A prototype of London’s future fuel cell taxi fleet was just unveiled at their city hall yesterday and has us a lil’ jealous of their forward thinking plans. The fleet of water emitting “black cabs” will help Londoners meet their goals of being tailpipe emissions free by 2020 and will green up their image just in time for the 2012 Olympics. It seems that London is trying to make the upcoming Olympic games as sustainable as possible — we reported on the games earlier this year — and these taxis will be no small part of that effort.

The new black cabs  run on hydrogen fuel cells, have a top speed of 80 mph, a range of 250 miles and can be recharged in just 5 minutes. Officials believe the hardest part on the road to greening their transportation fleet will be convincing taxi drivers to switch from the current diesel models. The UK government has invested about £5.5 million funding by way of the Technology Strategy Board and they note that more funding will be needed to create a network of refueling stations before the taxis hit the street. In addition, four hydrogen fuel cell buses are scheduled to enter the London system later this year.

London’s air pollution issues have long been on the minds of citizens. As early as in the 14th century, the government put a ban on sea coal because of noxious fumes. The city is really trying to clean up its image and its air with initiatives to cut down on air pollution and make the city a greener place to breathe. “The black cab is a much loved London icon, but it is also a significant source of pollution, especially in the city centre,” noted Kit Malthouse, chair of London’s hydrogen partnership. She added, “this prototype Fuel Cell Black Cab, which emits only water from its tailpipe, is an exciting glimpse of how hydrogen technology could soon play a pivotal role in cleaning up air quality for urban dwellers.”

Via Autoblog Green


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  1. John Hansen August 6, 2010 at 6:57 am

    Although Inhabitat (cudos) has not misrepresented this, the BBC, CNN and other agencies have recently reported that Intelligent Energy and Lotus are developing the “first” hydrogen-powered London cab.

    There were actually three (3) fuel cell powered London taxis prior to the Lotus-Intelligent Energy prototype.

    First London fuel cell taxi developed in 1998.
    Second in 1999.
    Third in 2000.
    Fourth in 2010.

    The first London taxi to be powered by fuel cells was the ZeTek (ZevCo) Carbodies taxi, exhibited at the Queen Elizabeth Hall in 1998.

    This vehicle was named the “Millennium Taxi” and inaugurated by Mrs. Barbara Bacon, the wife of the late Francis T. Bacon, the English engineer and inventor of the fuel cell used on the Apollo missions.

    A second taxi was built in 1999 and featured on CNN, BBC and the seven principle US news networks. It toured Europe and the US, where amongst its other engagements, it was driven in the New York Sheraton Hotel Ballroom by London’s Taxi Driver of the Year and Judd Hirsch, star of the US television show “Taxi”.

    Once back in the UK this vehicle was stolen, the theft reported to the authorities, a record made and an investigation undertaken. However, much to everyone’s surprise, it was revealed that Camden Borough Council had removed the Taxi from a private car park, towed it away and crushed it, without any notification, justification or apology.

    A third fuel cell taxi was built in 2000 using a Metrocab body and was featured at Hannover Messe, the European Fuel Cell Forum and the Seventh Grove Fuel Cell Symposium in the UK. This vehicle is currently being refurbished.

    Unfortunately, ZeTek Power Plc, the company who developed these vehicles (and other fuel cell applications), collapsed as a result of the market fallout after the September 11th, 2001 WTC tragedy.

  2. Lawrence Weisdorn June 8, 2010 at 2:18 pm

    Hydrogen fuel cell taxis! Could hydrogen fuel cell vehicles for the masses be next?

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