MetrocabThe first range extender taxi cab has entered trial service in London – and passengers who hail it this week may be able to get a free ride in the taxi capable of running emissions-free.

A partnership between Metrocab and taxi form ComCab has enabled the new Metrocab Range-Extended Electric (REE) taxi to enter service. The trial fleet is operating in London after successfully gaining official licencing as a London Hackney Carriage.

To mark the rollout, the firms will this week be filming passengers’ reactions to the zero-emissions Metrocab – and if they agree to take part, their taxi ride will be free of charge.

Gordon Dixon, regional operations director for Metrocab, said: “We have been developing the new Metrocab for 10 years now… I’m so proud that it has been licensed by Transport for London to operate on a trial basis as a London Hackney Carriage.”

Karl Maresch from ComCab added: “We’re very proud to be partnering with Metrocab on this pilot fleet of these superb Range-Extended Electric taxis.  It could revolutionise our business, with the cost savings being very significant.

“I’m really looking forward to seeing the short film, and finding out what our passengers think of the all-new Metrocab.”

The 98mpg London taxi

The new Metrocab REE is driven by two electric motors and powered by a 12.1kWh lithium ion battery. When this runs flat, an on-board 1.0-litre petrol range extender generator charges it back up, a process that takes around 10 minutes.

It means localised emissions plummet and the taxi also has zero-emissions capabilities, particularly if the driver is able to charge the batteries up using a plug and thus minimise use of the engine generator.

Even on the ECE101 cycle, the new Metrocab is rated at 98mpg and les than 50g/km CO2 – that makes it three times as efficient as a current London taxi, with 75% fewer CO2 emissions. It also has a combined range of nearly 350 miles.

Because of such impressive fuel economy, Metrocab estimates it could save the average London cabbie up to £40 a day.

It has been developed by Surrey-based Frazer-Nash Research and Ecotive; 10 years in development, the new Metrocab has already covered a million test kilometres to prove the concept works.