Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Eurocabs Gear Up for Battle of the Taxis

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Eurocabs Gear Up for Battle of the Taxis

Article excerpt

Byline: DAVID WILLIAMS

ONE OF London's most famous icons - the black taxi - is under threat from sleek new "Eurocabs".

The new cabs' creators have asked the Mayor to approve them to ply for trade from next year. They claim their new models are faster, quieter, more economical, cheaper and less polluting - and that they can carry seven people in comfort, two more than a traditional cab.

The Eurocabs, based on Mercedes and Fiat people carriers, were recently approved for trade in Birmingham, Derby and Nottingham.

If permission is granted by London's Public Carriage Office - which reports to the Mayor - to the Jubilee Automotive Group, it would end the domination of the black cab market enjoyed by manufacturers London Taxis International and Metrocab UK.

To turn the people carriers into taxis, the original vehicles are stripped back to hollow shells. They are then fitted with beefed-up suspension, taxi lights, meters, new seats, ramps for wheelchairs, passenger lighting, additional seatbelts, intercoms and rubber flooring to withstand the rigours of life in the capital. A tough metal bulkhead is also fitted in between the passenger and driver's compartment.

Mike Holland, joint managing director of Jubilee, said he expected to send two converted vehicles to the Public Carriage Office this year for detailed approval.

"We meet most of the essential criteria for approval," claimed Mr Holland.

"The only two we do not comply on are turning circle and width. However we measured black cabs that already have approval and some do not meet the requirements either."

"We are not suggesting that this should be the end of the black cab - simply that drivers should have a choice," said Mr Holland, who added that the Mercedes Eurocab will cost from [pound]24,000 and the Fiat from [pound]23,000, compared with [pound]27,000 for an automatic TX-1.

He claimed his advanced diesel-powered vehicles have only one fifth of the emissions of traditional black cabs and that they have a superior, smoother ride because of their modern suspension.

Bob Oddy, general secretary of the Licensed Taxi Drivers' Association, said he backed Jubilee. …

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