- Published in Features.
Most engineers probably think about taxis only when they need to get the red-eye flight for a development meeting or when leaving a symposium for the run back to the airport. Even then, the only things that really matter are that it’s there on time and that the driver accepts credit cards.
But for designers there’s a little more to consider. The vehicles must evolve: emissions regulations and increasing urbanisation and traffic densities are starting to change consumers’ views of personal mobility.
Governments are concerned with improving urban air quality and cutting carbon emissions.
Some cities, such as London, already charge drivers who want to head into the centre. In others, older, dirtier vehicles are banned altogether.
More people living in urban areas means parking becomes more limited and more expensive. For many consumers, this could mean car ownership becomes unviable, or unnecessary – taxis and public transport may be the solution.
Volkswagen has developed a taxi concept based on the battery-electric version of its Up! city car, due to start production in 2013.
The OEM has shown off several versions of the concept in Berlin, Milan, Shanghai and, at the end of last year, London. “We thought about future mobility and electric mobility and quickly came to the conclusion that you need to consider city centres as the scenario because of zero-emissions zones,” says Klaus Bischoff, VW’s head of design.
“We wanted to make an EV city car – all designers worldwide are doing this – but we also love iconic taxi designs such as the New York cab and the London black cab. So we thought we’d do a taxi concept for the world.”
The relatively low range of electric vehicles shouldn’t be a big problem in city cab applications because the distances and speeds of a typical duty cycle are relatively low and recharging could be done at a limited number of central depots.