London's Black Cars Go 'Green'

New plans will put hydrogen taxis on streets of London in time for the 2012 Olympics.

Published: 19-May-2008

LONDON – Plans have been announced that will lead to zero-emissions taxis serving London by 2012. A collaboration led by hydrogen fuel cell developer, Intelligent Energy, and including Lotus Engineering Ltd, LTI (London Taxis International) Ltd and TRW Conekt, will see a fleet of classic London cabs fitted out with zero emissions hydrogen fuel cell power systems. The programme is part of the UK government’s Technology Strategy Board recent allocation of funding of £23 million for 16 innovative low carbon vehicle development programmes.

The taxis will be powered by fuel cells and batteries configured into an electric hybrid, so the vehicles will be able to operate for a full day without refuelling. They will be capable of achieving speeds of up to 75 mph, with the fuel cell powertrain providing better acceleration than standard taxis. The vehicles will top up their hydrogen tanks at central depots in a refuelling process will take only a few minutes.

Chief executive officer at Intelligent Energy, Henri Winand, said, “With the price of oil continuing to rise and CO2 emissions increasing, we need to introduce alternatives to the petrol and diesel engine. Fuel cell vehicles offer considerable well-to-wheel emissions savings, and produce no pollution at the tail-pipe. The black cab is an internationally recognised and iconic symbol of London and this partnership is an important part of making low carbon transport a practical and near-term reality. This project is central to our plans to supply zero emissions power systems to the automotive market.”

Hydrogen fuel cells produce power from hydrogen and air, the only emissions coming in the form of water vapour. The fuel cell system will be able to function at temperatures as low as -20°C, and will fit in the space allotted to the engine in the current LTI TX4 taxi design.

“Our technical teams have already successfully integrated fuel cell power systems into motorbikes, delivery vehicles and even aircraft, where we recently provided the power system for the world’s first manned fuel cell powered flight. Energy security and the environment remain major global issues, and people around the world are coming to see that hydrogen is a viable solution to our growing energy needs. The taxi project will provide further evidence of our ability to put commercially available hydrogen fuel cell vehicles on the market in the coming years, and what better stage to prove the credentials of British innovation than on the way to the 2012 London Olympics,” added Winand.

Iain Gray, chief executive of the Technology Strategy Board, said: "We are delighted to support this important project. Tackling the growth of carbon emissions from road transport and meeting demanding new EU carbon emission standards for new cars are major challenges for the UK’s automotive industry. Through our investment in UK-based research and development, the Technology Strategy Board aims to accelerate the introduction into the market of low carbon vehicles, ahead of what would be achieved by market forces alone." He added: "This is an excellent example of an initiative that will help UK business stay at the forefront of low carbon transport technologies."

Mike Kimberley, chief executive officer of Group Lotus Plc said: “We are committed to driving forward with high technology, global advancements into areas such as hybrid and electric vehicles and are delighted to be major contributors to this low carbon vehicle development project. There is a global drive to reduce CO2 emission levels and this is something we are dedicated to, for both our Lotus cars and engineering clients. We fully support this investment from the Technology Strategy Board, which will assist in taking forward research, development and demonstration of this environmentally conscious and green transport solution.”

Peter Shillcock, Managing Director of LTI Ltd said,” As a responsible automotive manufacturer we are committed to exploring all possible technological solutions to help reduce emissions from our world famous taxi. We are delighted to be involved in the project that will see a fleet of the iconic London taxis operating on the streets of London”.


About the TSB Zero Emissions London Taxi Commercialisation project:
(For further details, see
Aim: To initiate and accelerate introduction of commercial fleets of zero emission fuel cell hybrid taxis primarily for London, by 2012 and for other cities, by 2014. The project will develop and integrate robust, high efficiency, Proton Exchange Membrane (PEM) fuel cell hybrid powertrains into LTI TX4 taxis. The arduous duty cycle of the London taxi will be utilised to provide a platform for accelerated fuel cell vehicle lifecycle testing
Lead Organisation Intelligent Energy
Consortium members Lotus Engineering Ltd, LTI Ltd, TRW Conekt

Roles of the partners

Intelligent Energy: IE will test and optimize the fuel cell system. It will develop a durable and dependable fuel cell engine providing power output of >25kW, that will be capable of providing reliable power to a fleet of 50-100 vehicles for 2012.

Lotus Engineering Ltd: Lotus will work with Intelligent Energy to package the components of the fuel cell drive system and to build control systems that optimise the performance of the fuel cells and electrical drive systems. Lotus will test a range of vehicle operating systems, such as refuelling, hot and cold start performance and durability testing on a simulated London taxi duty cycle.

TRW Conekt: TRW will lead the safety analysis programme, including braking and steering systems. TRW Conekt will also be involved in other activities such as testing vehicle controls, electrics and electronics.

LTI: Provide donor vehicles and assist with structural modifications to the chassis of the taxis.

Technology Strategy Board: The TSB has invested £23 million in a total of 16 projects under the Low Carbon Vehicles Innovation Platform, of which the Zero Emissions London Taxi Commercialisation project is one.

About Intelligent Energy
Intelligent Energy is a fuel cell power systems company, with a range of leading fuel cell, fuel purification and hydrogen generation technologies. The company is focused on the provision of cleaner power and low carbon technologies. Intelligent Energy partners with leading companies globally, in the transportation, oil and gas, aerospace, defence, distributed generation and portable power markets. Current partners and customers include Scottish & Southern Energy, PSA Peugeot Citroën, and The Suzuki Motor Corporation.

About Group Lotus plc:
The main operating subsidiary of Group Lotus plc is Lotus Cars Ltd, which has two operating divisions - Lotus Engineering and Lotus Cars. Lotus Engineering is an internationally recognised automotive
engineering consultancy based in Norfolk, UK. Global facilities include those in Michigan (USA), Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia), China and offices in Germany and Japan, with rapid expansion in new territories such as South East Asia and the Gulf States.

Lotus Engineering provides comprehensive and versatile consultancy services to many of the world's OEMs and Tier 1 suppliers, offering a full engineering service from initial concept and project design through development and integration of the complete vehicle to meet all worldwide markets and customers to full production. This includes third party 'niche vehicle' engineering and manufacture worldwide.

Lotus Cars builds world class, prestige, high performance sports cars for sale in 37 countries. These include the iconic Lotus Elise, and the Exige and Europa. Lotus is a global high-tech company, expanding rapidly and committed to driving forward technology for both Lotus Cars and its Engineering clients, spearheading research into such areas as hybrids, electric vehicles and renewable fuels.

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