Fuelled by diesel bans and Brexit, London black cabs get set for German streets

The company behind the iconic black London cab have gone green, bringing out a new hybrid fleet. Amid Brexit uncertainty they’ve targeted Germany as their primary export market.

Fuelled by diesel bans and Brexit, London black cabs get set for German streets
Black cabs in London. Image: DPA

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.

SEE ALSO: Germany plans to extend transition period for Brits in case of no-deal

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. 

SEE ALSO: Government calls upon diesel car manufacturers to up their game in 2019

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. 

A regeneration

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. 

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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. 

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‘It’s their loss’: Italian universities left off UK special study visa list

The UK is missing out by barring highly skilled Italian graduates from accessing a new work visa, Italy's universities minister said on Wednesday.

'It's their loss': Italian universities left off UK special study visa list

Universities and Research Minister Cristina Messa said she was disappointed by the UK’s decision not to allow any graduates of Italian universities access to its ‘High Potential Individual’ work permit.

“They’re losing a big slice of good graduates, who would provide as many high skills…it’s their loss,” Messa said in an interview with news agency Ansa, adding that Italy would petition the UK government to alter its list to include Italian institutions.

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“It’s a system that Britain obviously as a sovereign state can choose to implement, but we as a government can ask (them) to revise the university rankings,” she said.

The High Potential Individual visa, which launches on May 30th, is designed to bring highly skilled workers from the world’s top universities to the UK in order to compensate for its Brexit-induced labour shortage.

Successful applicants do not require a job offer to be allowed into the country but can apply for one after arriving, meaning potential employers won’t have to pay sponsorship fees.

Students sit on the steps of Roma Tre University in Rome.

Students sit on the steps of Roma Tre University in Rome. Photo by TIZIANA FABI / AFP.

The visa is valid for two years for those with bachelor’s and master’s degrees and three years for PhD holders, with the possibility of moving into “other long-term employment routes” that will allow the individual to remain in the country long-term.

READ ALSO: Eight things you should know if you’re planning to study in Italy

Italy isn’t the only European country to have been snubbed by the list, which features a total of 37 global universities for the 2021 graduation year (the scheme is open to students who have graduated in the past five years, with a different list for each graduation year since 2016).

The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, EPFL Switzerland, Paris Sciences et Lettres, the University of Munich, and Sweden’s Karolinska Institute are the sole European inclusions in the document, which mainly privileges US universities.

Produced by the UK’s Education Ministry, the list is reportedly based on three global rankings: Times Higher Education World University Rankings, the Quacquarelli Symonds World University Rankings, and The Academic Ranking of World Universities.

Messa said she will request that the UK consider using ‘more up-to-date indicators’, without specifying which alternative system she had in mind.