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NISSAN UNVEILS A BOLD NEW VISION FOR THE LONDON ‘BLACK CAB’

07/08/2012

‘THE NISSAN NV200 LONDON TAXI’

  • Nissan unveils a new Hackney Carriage for the Capital
  • Affordable and 50% more fuel efficient, than alternative cabs
  • Complies with TfL regulations, including 25ft turning circle
  • All-electric e-NV200 prototype London Taxi to be tested in 2013
  • Fully backed by London Mayor, Boris Johnson, the Licensed Taxi Drivers’ Association and disability groups
  • Designed for superior comfort, space, convenience and accessibility

LONDON, United Kingdom, Monday 6 August, 2012:

Nissan has unveiled a bold new vision for the future of the London ‘black cab’ and its 300,000 daily users – the Nissan NV200 London Taxi.

The NV200 London Taxi will offer significantly reduced CO2 outputs compared to current taxi models – a focus in line with the Mayor Boris Johnson’s Air Quality strategy for London.

An all-electric e-NV200 concept is also set to undergo trials in the Capital.

The Mayor has joined disability groups and the influential London Taxi Drivers’ Association in welcoming the launch of the Nissan NV200 London Taxi.high_UK_95331

Taxi versions of the NV200 have already been unveiled in Tokyo and it has also been chosen as the exclusive New York City ‘Taxi of tomorrow’. The NV200 London Taxi joins an exciting global Nissan vision for the private hire industry.

Nissan has a respected place in the Capital’s taxi history – its 2.7-litre TD27 diesel engine was chosen for the iconic LTI FX4 ‘Fairway’ black cab, which introduced improved speed, reliability and efficiency to the London cabbie’s daily drive. The same engine also featured in the Fairway’s successor, the TX1.

The NV200 will build on this reputation.

Steve McNamara, General Secretary of the Licensed Taxi Drivers’ Association, said: “Nissan already has a great footing in the London taxi market – the 2.7-litre diesel that featured in some of the early taxis was one of the greatest engines ever put in a cab. From what I’ve seen of the NV200 London Taxi, it ticks all the right boxes. It’s important that it looks like a cab, is comfortable with good ingress and egress and is reliable. If the fuel consumption figures are as promised, it will be a big seller.”

Designed from the inside out for the well-being of passengers, drivers and even other road users, the NV200 London Taxi is more efficient and more environmentally considerate than current ‘black cab’ models, while delivering more comfort, space and convenience for occupants. A particular focus was also placed on providing for passengers with mobility issues.

Alan Norton, from Assist UK, said: “Assist UK is proud to be associated with Nissan in the development of an accessible taxi to meet the needs of all disabled people. We have had the opportunity to bring together experts from all fields of disability to work with designers to ensure the vehicle will work for all in their transport needs.  The work is ongoing and future refinements are planned after the initial launch, as many ideas have been discussed and are currently undergoing development.  We congratulate Nissan for its initiative and wish them every success with their project.”

Durable and reliable, the Nissan NV200 London Taxi is based on the company’s multi-purpose NV200 compact van – a vehicle which has won many awards including International Van Of The Year. Launched at end of 2009, the model has been introduced to 40 countries, selling over 100,000 units worldwide.

The Nissan NV200 London Taxi comfortably seats five adults – three on a rear bench with two on rear-facing, fold-down seats. The front passenger seat has been removed to create space for luggage.

A stand-out feature is the taxi’s sliding passenger doors, which were developed for easy open and close. They are also much safer for pedestrians, cyclists and other vehicles because they do not swing out to create a potential obstruction.

The diesel version of the Nissan NV200 London Taxi is expected to be competitively priced below the new TX4 – the London Taxi Company’s current model – and will be available through a designated ‘specialist’ Nissan dealer.

Nissan’s NV200 also delivers significantly improved running costs than alternative London cabs. The model’s frugal 1.5 dCi 89 HP EuroV, 6-speed manual drivetrain achieves 53.3mpg on a combined cycle meaning almost 50% fuel saving than the most efficient TX4 with its combined cycle figure of 35.3mpg.

Fuel costs account for around 10 percent of taxi driver overheads. Over the course of a year, NV200 London Taxi drivers would spend around 50% less – about £700 – on fuel than TX4 drivers.*

With a focus on improving air quality in the city, the NV200 London Taxi’s Euro V engine only emits up to 139g/km of CO2, compared with 209g/km from the ‘greenest’ TX4 model. As a relevant simulation, if all of London’s licensed taxis were replaced with the NV200 London Taxi, there would be a CO2 reduction across London of 37,970 metric tonnes each year – the equivalent of planting 10,000 acres, or two Congestion Charge zones, of trees every 12 months.

More importantly, the harmful NOx and PM (particulate) gases on which authorities are seeking particular improvement in ‘clean air’ legislation, would be reduced by an estimated 135 metric tonnes and 20 metric tonnes per year.**

An all electric version could have an even bigger impact on London’s air quality. Having been the first car manufacturer to mass produce a 100% electric family car with its trail-blazing Nissan LEAF, Nissan could cement its place at the forefront of motoring technology with the introduction of an all-electric e-NV200 London Taxi. With running costs estimated to be around one fifth of a conventional, diesel-powered Hackney Carriage it is likely to be popular with drivers too.

Discussions with all the stakeholders will continue to try and make an e-NV200 a realistic proposition by increasing investment in charging infrastructure.

Subject to final testing, including a crash-test, the diesel-powered Nissan NV200 aims to receive full London Taxi certification later this year.

The extensive modifications to the standard NV200 ensure the model fully conforms to the regulations set in the TfL London Taxi Conditions of Fitness. These include being able to accommodate a wheelchair passenger and achieve a 25ft (7.6m) turning-circle – a legal requirement for all Hackney carriages, said to originate from the small roundabout in front of the famous Savoy Hotel on The Strand that taxis needed to round in one manoeuvre.

Boris Johnson, Mayor of London, said: “Improving air quality in London is one of the most important challenges I face as Mayor.  Having taken the significant step of introducing the first age limit for taxis in London, I am absolutely delighted that manufacturers are stepping up to the plate and are responding to the challenge I set in my air quality strategy to reduce taxi emissions and improve efficiency.  I look forward to when a fully competitive model comes to market.”

Andy Palmer, Executive Vice President of Nissan, said: “Nissan is proud to be delivering a 21st century vision for one of London’s most iconic vehicles. The ‘black cab’ is as much a part of the London landscape as Big Ben and, whilst there will always be a place for that familiar silhouette,  the Nissan NV200 London Taxi focuses as much attention on its interior as the exterior – a better experience for drivers and passengers.”

He continued: “The design process for the NV200 London Taxi was exhaustive and will be further improved. In addition to ensuring drivers would be comfortable spending extended hours behind the wheel, we’ve had to consider every user for this vehicle – there are no specific customer profiles in the back of a London cab. Adults, children, business professionals, foreign visitors, disabled travellers – they’re all potential customers. We’ve even considered those who might never get inside the taxi but who will benefit from features such as the model’s lower CO2 emissions or the un-obstructing sliding doors.

“The Nissan NV200 is a global taxi, launching in the biggest and brightest cities in the world. Safe, comfortable, efficient and convenient – it’s a great step forward for providing a transport solution that is good for both its users and other city inhabitants.”

NISSAN NV200 LONDON TAXI: IN DETAIL

EXTERIOR DESIGN

  • Bespoke exterior design to maximise passenger space and comfort
  • Wider track to accommodate modified steering system
  • Twin sliding doors for easy access

The innovative new Nissan London Taxi has been designed to take full advantage of the NV200’s clever packaging and occupant-friendly exterior features. Thanks to its generously sized rear passenger cell, the NV200 London Taxi is big enough to seat five passengers in comfort, yet compact enough to navigate and thrive in the Capital’s famously tricky streets.

The clean, functional design of the NV200 London Taxi combines styling cues from existing Nissan passenger cars and commercial vehicles and adds a number of unique features such as the dramatic upswept swage line that neatly frames the door glass. This sculpted line runs around the front of the vehicle to create a dramatic sense of movement, while the deep side windows provide enhanced visibility – an essential quality in a busy city environment.

The front end features a bold look that incorporates Nissan’s latest design language. The distinctive grille flows into the slimline wraparound headlights, while body-coloured bumpers extend seamlessly into the specially widened front wings to create a smooth, powerful look. The striking extended wheel arches are unique to the London Taxi, and accommodate the vehicle’s wider track and modified suspension and steering system.

The NV200 London Taxi also features unique front direction indicators. Relocated into the lower half of the bumper they sit further towards the outer edges of the vehicle and are integrated with LED daytime running lights. This gives them greater visibility in urban traffic.

Finally, no taxi would be complete without a roof sign, so the new NV200 London Taxi features a specially-developed unit that has been fully approved by Transport for London (TfL).

To give passengers the best possible view out, the NV200 London Taxi features large side windows that extend the full length of the vehicle. The glass area is uninterrupted by doorframes or body pillars to create a sleek, uncluttered look. Continuing the theme, the door handles are flush rather than proud of the bodywork.

Another key advantage the NV200 enjoys over its more traditional London Taxi rivals is passenger access via twin sliding doors. An integral part of the NV200’s design, the doors are wide, easy to use and can be opened without threatening the safety of passing traffic. The wide opening and high roofline also makes it much easier for occupants carrying large or heavy bags to get in and out.

To further improve access for all passengers, the left-hand door aperture has been enlarged (30mm increase in width, 20mm in height) to meet the requirements of wheelchair users.

As a result of this modification, the NV200 London Taxi meets all TfL regulations in regard to access, and has been approved by disability group Assist UK. The organisation has been involved at numerous stages in the vehicle’s development, and has provided the design and engineering team valuable feedback.

At the rear, the NV200 London Taxi has practical twin loading doors split 70/30. These give access to a large luggage area that can be altered by sliding the seat units backwards and forwards.

INTERIOR DESIGN

  • Unique cabin with separate driver and passenger compartments
  • Five-seater layout with three-seat rear split rear bench mounted on runners
  • Sliding rear seat allows for luggage space flexibility
  • TfL approved seating access and controls
  • Large glass roof boosts headroom and creates lighter cabin
  • Full wheelchair access via nearside sliding door

high_UK_95345 The flexible nature of the NV200’s platform makes it the perfect machine on which to base a 21st Century London Taxi. Not only does the NV200 London Taxi’s interior meet the demands of the modern traveller, it also exceeds the strict requirements set down in Transport for London (TfL)’s Conditions of Fitness (CoF).

Any manufacturer wishing for a vehicle to be approved by TfL as a London Taxi must meet every condition set down in the CoF. However, with many of these regulations dating back to times when vehicle construction was less advanced (the original document was issued in 1906), meeting and exceeding them has required a significant investment in engineering resources.

The result is a bespoke interior that sets new standards for London Taxi passenger comfort, refinement and flexibility. The main passenger area is accessed via twin sliding doors, with the nearside aperture modified to allow a wheelchair to gain access. Both doors incorporate automatic securing devices that prevent them being opened when the vehicle is moving. To meet CoF regulations, the doors do not open if the driver has the foot brake depressed.

The seating follows a conventional London Taxi five-seater layout with a rear bench (capable of accommodating three passengers) and two rear-facing, fold-down seats opposite. However, the NV200 differs from traditional London Taxis by having the rear bench split 70/30 and mounted on tracks. This allows for much greater cabin flexibility, as the two seat units can be moved independently to accommodate large or awkwardly shaped luggage. This facility also has benefits when carrying passengers in wheelchairs as it creates more floor area in which to turn and manouvre. To free up even more luggage space, the front passenger seat has been removed.

The two rearward-facing seats are attached to a new driver bulkhead that separates the driver from the passenger compartment. Constructed from steel and plastic, this reinforced divide has a dog-leg shape that creates extra legroom and further aids the loading of a wheelchair. The bulkhead also incorporates mountings for the seatbelts, along with fixing points to enable a wheelchair to be secured. An easy-to-use loading ramp has been developed and can be stored within the cabin.high_UK_95344

To complete the accessibility package, high-visibility grab handles have been attached to the leading edge of the door apertures.

Another unique design feature of the NV200 London Taxi is its large panoramic glass roof. Measuring 1.2m by 1.2m, it gives passengers an unrivalled view of the sky above and has the added advantage of providing more headroom.

Usability and longevity are two qualities essential in a taxi interior and here again, the NV200 London Taxi excels. It features all the elements required to qualify as a London Taxi, including a high-level Taximeter, two-way radio for communication between the driver and passengers, and independent heating and lighting controls.

The cabin lighting control switch has been installed in the approved position, while a door-activated floor lighting system has been developed, fitted and approved. Even the seat facings have been developed specifically for use in taxis. Not only do they feature high-visibility yellow panels at their leading edges, they are also finished in a special hard-wearing material that is easy to clean.

And it’s not just passengers who get to benefit from the NV200’s spacious and practical cabin. The front of the vehicle offers drivers a comfortable and well-appointed ‘office’ in which to conduct a day’s work. Designed to offer long-distance comfort for professional users, the design of the driving environment has been carefully thought-out.

The cabin abounds with clever touches, such as card holders on the backs of the sun visors; trays within the centre console storage area; and a convenience hook for hanging goods. The door pockets are large enough to hold two A4-sized map books, while a secret compartment within the glovebox can house valuables out of sight.

The instrument panel houses one of the most comprehensive trip computers available anywhere. As well as the more usual pieces of information – fuel consumption, service intervals, mileage displays etc – the computer can be programmed by the driver to provide a helpful shift-up display. Another crucial feature for any hard working cabbie is Bluetooth connectivity. This is fitted as standard and allows for hand-free operation of most compatible phones.

DRIVETRAIN AND CHASSIS

  • Modified suspension and steering system to achieve required 25ft turning circle
  • Unique ‘steering knuckle’ strut design delivers greater wheel articulation
  • Electric power steering for efficiency and ease of use at low speeds
  • Frugal and clean 1.5-litre dCi turbodiesel engines
  • Potential savings of over £650 for taxi drivers covering 22k miles a year

With a proven, low-emission diesel drivetrain and bespoke suspension design, the Nissan NV200 London Taxi comfortably exceeds the standards required to qualify as a Hackney Carriage.

The vehicle is based on a modified and stretched version of the successful Renault Nissan Alliance road car B platform, and delivers incredible maneuverability for the driver and a sophisticated, comfortable ride for all five passengers.

In order to meet Transport for London’s Condition of Fitness (CoF) requirement for a 25ft (7.62m) turning circle, the NV200’s entire front suspension and steering assembly has been redesigned. Developed and engineered by an engineering team at Vectayn in the UK, the new system allows for greater wheel articulation with no compromise to the vehicle’s interior packaging.

To achieve the required level of articulation, both front wheels have been moved 100mm outboard. In addition, the front suspension has been changed from the standard MacPherson Strut to a new design that incorporates a separate steering knuckle connected via swivel bearings. high_UK_95340

With a conventional strut, the whole assembly turns when steering is applied. By switching to a separate knuckle layout, only the knuckle and the hub turn. This, in turn, allows for much greater wheel articulation and ensures that the wheel remains perpendicular to the road at all times.

Combined with the wider track (which allows for the turned wheel to clear the inner wheel arch), modified steering rack and double Cardan driveshafts that incorporate two universal joints, the NV200 London Taxi has a turning circle of less than 25ft (7.62m).

The new assembly is mounted on a sub-frame that is connected to the vehicle with compliant rubber mounts. These mounts help isolate noise and vibration while a revised anti-roll bar gives effective control of body roll under cornering.

At the rear, the NV200 London Taxi features double-elliptical leaf springs. The entire rear suspension system is very compact and uses heavily-angled dampers to minimise cabin intrusion. This has the added benefit of keeping the floor as low as possible.

The NV200 London Taxi also features an impressive array of safety features designed to protect occupants and pedestrians. High intensity cabin and door impact absorption structures help provide a safety shield around occupants in an accident, while pedestrian safety is enhanced by the use of energy-absorbing materials in the bumper, bonnet and cowl.

To make life on the road as easy as possible for drivers, the NV200 London Taxi is fitted with an electric power steering – specifically tuned for European roads. With a strong self-centering action at lower engine speeds, it makes light work of tight manouevres and delivers excellent feedback to the driver.

Another area where the NV200 London Taxi excels is in the braking department. Anti-lock brakes (ABS) are standard on NV200, and are augmented by Brake Assist and Electronic Brake Force Distribution (EBD). Brake Assist maintains maximum deceleration during an emergency stop even if the driver reduces the pedal effort while EBD constantly alters the front disc to rear drum balance to achieve optimum brake performance, automatically compensating for differing passenger weights.

The NV200 London Taxi is powered by a frugal 1.5-litre, four-cylinder turbodiesel engine with two power outputs: 89hp and 110hp. Based on the K9K 1.5dCi common rail unit, the 1,461cc eight-valve engine combines excellent fuel economy with low maintenance costs and punchy performance. It also has exceptionally low CO2 emissions that start from 139g/km (89hp engine) – a figure that comfortably undercuts existing London Taxi offerings.

Versions fitted with the 89hp engine feature a five-speed manual transmission, while 110hp variants benefit from a six-speed unit. Both powerplants are fully compliant with the latest EuroV emissions regulations.

Fuel consumption is another area where the Nissan NV200 London Taxi offers a significant improvement over existing Taxi designs. Thanks to a provisional combined consumption figure of 53.3mpg (89hp model), the NV200 could save professional drivers (covering an average of 22,000 miles a year) an estimated £663 a year* (see Running Costs and Environmental Advantages section for more information).

RUNNING COSTS AND ENVIRONMENTAL ADVANTAGES

  • Highly efficient engines offer significant savings for operators
  • Low CO2 emissions help in the drive to improve London air quality
  • Development backed by London Mayor Boris Johnson
  • Sales through approved Nissan ‘specialist’ dealer

The new Nissan NV200 London Taxi doesn’t just raise the standards for passengers, it also makes business sense for owners and promises to have a significant impact on the CO2 emissions of London’s taxi fleet.

The NV200 London Taxi will be sold through a designated Nissan ‘specialist’ dealer and will be competitively priced, significantly below the current London Taxi Company TX4.

More details and a pricing structure for options and features will be announced closer to the launch date.

With fuel costs accounting for an ever-increasing percentage of taxi running costs, the NV200’s frugal 1.5-litre dCi engine will hold considerable appeal for cabbies. The most efficient London Taxi Company TX4 (2.5 manual) returns 35.2mpg on the combined cycle, compared to 53.3mpg for the NV200 (89hp model).

By switching to an NV200, a typical London Taxi driver covering 22,000 miles a year can expect to save £663 in fuel costs. If the entire London fleet switched to the NV200, the overall saving would amount to over £14.5m.

Being a Nissan, it comes as no surprise that the NV200 also puts forward a compelling environmental case. Its 1.5-litre dCi diesel engine emits just 139g/km of CO2 (89hp model) – considerably less than the 206g/km produced by the cleanest version of the current London Taxi Company TX4 (2.5 manual).

If all London’s 22,000 licenced taxis were replaced by the NV200, there would be a CO2 reduction across the Capital of over 37,970 metric tonnes every year. In reality, the reduction would be even greater, as many of the taxis in service are considerably older and less efficient than the current model.

The CO2 reduction would be a huge boost to London’s Air Quality Strategy – a framework of measures aimed at reducing harmful emissions and improving air quality for Londoners. Introduced by Mayor Boris Johnson, the strategy has already highlighted the issue of emissions from older taxis. Nissan has worked closely with the Mayor’s office during the design and development stage of the NV200 London Taxi, and will continue to do so as the project reaches production.

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