We first featured Nissan’s ambitious plan to make a black cab for the UK earlier this year, including details of a zero-emissions electric version.
Now, a year before trials of that get underway in London, we’ve been behind the wheel of the electric van it’ll be based on.
The standard Nissan cab is due in 2013, but the EV version, the e-NV200, is more interesting. The drivetrain is based on the Leaf, with an 80kW (108bhp) electric motor generating 280Nm of torque.
Lithium-ion batteries are stored under the floor, which allows for a traditional taxi layout: cabs will have a forward-facing three-seat bench and two rear-facing flip-down chairs. Access is excellent, thanks to the two sliding side doors – safer for pedestrians and cyclists when opened from inside – and the blue-tinted Nissan bonnet badge hides the charging socket.
Behind the wheel, the e-NV200 is similar to the Leaf. On the road there’s an audible whine which gets louder as speed increases, but acceleration is smooth and brisk. Cabbies will also be thrilled to know the taxi will have the necessary 25ft turning circle when it arrives in London.
A 100-mile range seems limited, but Nissan expects cabbies to plug in overnight, quick-charge over lunch (it’s 80 per cent charged in 30 minutes) then return to work. Whether that works in practice will be a key factor in its success.