News & Opinion | June 3, 2018 5:00 am

Can London’s New Electric Black Cabs Compete with Uber?

A Chinese auto manufacturer is turning the city's iconic black cab into a green-friendly ride.

CEO of London EV Company, Chris Gubbey poses inside the new electric TX eCity taxi connected to a sample electric vehicle charger at the Battersea power station in London on December 5, 2017.
London's first electric-powered black cabs hit the streets on December 5, 2017, the British capital's iconic taxis getting a facelift for the modern age that should help cut pollution in the city. / AFP PHOTO / Daniel LEAL-OLIVAS        (Photo credit should read DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP/Getty Images)
CEO of London EV Company, Chris Gubbey poses inside the new electric TX eCity taxi connected to a sample electric vehicle charger at the Battersea power station in London on December 5, 2017. London's first electric-powered black cabs hit the streets on December 5, 2017, the British capital's iconic taxis getting a facelift for the modern age that should help cut pollution in the city. / AFP PHOTO / Daniel LEAL-OLIVAS (Photo credit should read DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP/Getty Images)
AFP/Getty Images

A new Wired story investigates the London Electric Vehicle Company (LEVC), the firm dedicated to making battery-powered taxis that can compete with Uber.

When Chinese manufacturer Geely, which also owns Volvo, bought London Taxis International, it transformed the company responsible for making the vast majority of London’s black cabs into the LEVC. Keeping in mind city regulations that now require newly-licensed London taxis to drive at least 30 miles without emitting any pollution, the LEVC took the classic design of the London black cab, replaced the diesel engine with a battery, and souped up its exterior and interior to create a high-end ride experience.

Unlike Uber, the LEVC’s drivers are full-time, traditional employees. Though the LEVC cannot yet compete with Uber’s per-ride costs for customers, the company’s hope is that riders will be excited to pay a little extra for a more dependable, more luxurious experience.