Creating the black cab of the future

Jon Lawson

When reinventing an automotive icon, manufacturers are required to preserve the ethos of the original model while bringing the concept in line with modern technology. A difficult balance to achieve, but one the LEVC (London EV Company) claim to have done with the new TX.

To achieve the performance and efficiency levels demanded of modern vehicles, the TX represents a complete redesign compared to its predecessors. To enable this new approach, LEVC requested the involvement of Optimas Solutions.

A large battery pack and electric motor provides a pure EV range of over 70 miles – whilst the petrol range extender, a portable generator for the battery, takes total range of the vehicle up to 377 miles. The Electric Taxi will meet stringent emissions level restrictions in London and cities across Europe.

The new TX features a six seat configuration and a forward facing wheelchair position, coupled with a panoramic glass roof. On-board Wi-Fi as well as laptop and USB charging ports are available as standard. Furthermore, the it has a fully aluminium body in order to save weight and improve range.

However, redesigning an icon from the ground up requires consistent thinking from the smallest components upwards, as Ian Carvell, European Engineering Director at Optimas explained: “Specifying suitable fasteners and bolts to achieve a pioneering vehicle while minimising the cost to the manufacturer is a fine balance. That is why at Optimas we involved ourselves from the initial design phase of the project, so we could begin rationalising component options from the first preliminary builds. By this methodology, we could work in tandem with LEVC to tackle the engineering challenges associated with a new vehicle platform.”

Daniel Pereira, UK Engineering Manager at Optimas expanded: “What we are trying to achieve is increased supply chain simplicity by offering suitable alternative parts that can be delivered to tight deadlines. For example one of the first hurdles for this project was to ensure the verification prototypes were ready for the winter testing and shakedown season. Missing this window would delay the project by a year, which is unacceptable to LEVC and its investors. Therefore, we utilised parts that were reliable and freely available, or engineered alternatives where there was no stock forthcoming to ensure that LEVC could adhere to its testing schedule.”

“We held weekly ‘Fastener Clinics’ at three different design consultancies (Ricardo, Envisage and Emerald), so we could keep pace with the changing requirements of LEVC throughout the research and development process. By this regular contact, we were able to actively manage the bill of materials in order to supply parts for various new TX prototype stages to tight deadlines, despite the fact that many of the application challenges did not have officially released parts,” Carvell elaborates. “Considering the new TX incorporates over 2,000 individual parts designed specifically for the project, it was vital we kept regular contact to ensure we could integrate seamlessly with LEVC’s component requirements.”

The new TX will be introduced to British roads over the course of 2018, with models due to be exported to cities in Europe and Asia. LEVC isa able to produce 20,000 units at its new £325 million production facility. 

Recent Issues