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