Plans have been announced for a fleet of classic London taxis powered by zero-emission hydrogen fuel cell power systems to be functional in time for the 2012 London Olympics.
Plans have been announced for a fleet of classic London taxis powered by zero-emission hydrogen fuel cell power systems to be functional in time for the 2012 London Olympics.. Click image to enlarge

London, England – Plans have been announced for a fleet of classic London taxis powered by zero-emission hydrogen fuel cell power systems to be functional in time for the 2012 London Olympics. The cabs are the result of collaboration by hydrogen fuel cell developer Intelligent Energy, Lotus Engineering Limited, London Taxis International (LTI) and TRW Conekt.

The program is part of the U.K. government’s funding allocation of £23 million for sixteen low-carbon vehicle development programs, under its Technology Strategy Board.

The taxis will be powered by fuel cells and batteries configured into an electric hybrid, so they will be capable of operating for a full day without refuelling. They will be capable of speeds of up to 120 km/h, and will be topped up with hydrogen at central depots in a refuelling process that will take only a few minutes.

“With the price of oil continuing to rise and CO2 emissions increasing, we need to introduce alternatives to the petrol and diesel engine,” said Henri Winand, CEO of Intelligent Energy. “Fuel cell vehicles offer considerable well-to-wheel emissions savings, and produce no pollution at the tailpipe. The black cab is an internationally recognized 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.”

The fuel cell system will be able to function at temperatures as low as minus 20 C, and will fit into the space allotted to the engine in the current LTI taxi design.

The project is intended 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 arduous duty cycle of the London taxi will be utilized to provide a platform for accelerated fuel cell vehicle lifecycle testing.

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