London’s black cabs go green as Geely opens Coventry factory

An all-electric version of London’s iconic black cab is set to go on sale at the end of this year after its Chinese manufacturer opened a solar-powered factory near Coventry, England.

London Taxi Co., which is owned by China’s Geely Automobile Holdings Ltd., invested more than 300 million pounds ($374 million) in the Ansty Technology Park, where as many as 20,000 vehicles will be able to roll of the production line each year, according to a statement by LTC on Wednesday.

The taxis are designed to help clean up pollution in London, where Mayor Sadiq Khan is seeking to get rid of the dirtiest vehicles. From January 2018, all new taxis will need to be zero-emission capable. Without switching to electric motors, London’s 23,000 diesel-powered taxis would spew about a fifth of central London’s nitrogen oxide emissions in 2020, according to the mayor’s office.

“The opening of our new plant sets a number of records,” said Carl-Peter Forster, chairman of LTC. “It’s the first brand new automotive manufacturing facility in Britain for over a decade, the first dedicated electric vehicle factory in the U.K., and the first major Chinese investment in U.K. automotive.”

The new factory is fitted with 850 square meters (9,149 feet) of solar panels to provide electricity as well as 20 charging points for electric vehicles, according to the press release.

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As well as targeting London, Geely last year toured European cities from Paris to Berlin that are also suffering toxic smog levels. The new vehicle will go on sale in London in the fourth quarter and globally in early 2018.

While a final price for the car hasn’t been set yet, Geely says it will be “highly competitive,” with lower fuel costs than those running on gasoline or diesel. London’s transport authority and the U.K. government have said they will provide drivers with grants of as much as 7,500 pounds for switching to a low emission taxi.

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