The black cab is to London what the yellow cab is to New York City. Even for those who have never set foot in either metropolis, the taxis are an icon representing the city around the globe.
At a time when Britain appears to becoming more insular and isolated, LEVC (London Electric Vehicle Company) -- the company responsible for the London black cab -- have set their sights on Europe and have a focus on Germany.
Aside from the Brexit uncertainty -- which the company says could cut their business by 20 to 30 percent - Germany’s recent diesel bans have created an opportunity for the newly-green manufacturer.
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They’ve already sold 200 in Germany and expect orders to continue in the coming years.
Taxi driver Jörg Röttjer with his London-style cab in Hanover in the 1960s. Image: DPA
Along with the Brexit uncertainty, Germany is an attractive market
Although the German taxi market is relatively well established -- and there are of course no shortages of local car manufacturers -- environmental concerns have made the hybrid black cabs a more attractive option in Deutschland.
With diesel bans coming into place in a number of German cities and emissions reduction targets still out of reach, the company expects demand to rise.
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LEVC chief Jörg Hofmann told the Süddeutsche Zeitung “Germany is our main market (outside of the UK)”.
The black cabs won’t purely be limited to tax duties either. Rideshare companies like Hamburg’s Clevershuttle have incorporated the black cabs into their services, while Hofmann sees several different uses -- such as delivery vans.
"At my home every day, two or three delivery vans with running diesel engines are just around the corner, because we buy everything on the Internet and it must be delivered," he said.
With delivery vehicles potentially being heavily hit by the bans, many companies will need to convert.
Despite the iconic nature of the black cabs and their ubiquity on London streets, a few years back, their future was far from certain. The diesel-powered cabs had been identified by the British government as a cause of pollution, particularly in London.
Authorities changed the rules in January 2019 so that all new cabs hitting London streets would be electric-powered. As a result, the company shifted to a ‘hybrid’ model - running off a battery which is charged by petrol once it runs low.