Will Nissan's NV200 cab be accepted in the world's toughest cab market
Few people on the planet celebrate their public transportation more than do the British, and Londoners in particular. The tube played a hero’s role during the terror bombing of London during the WWII, and “Mind the gap” is a saying that is used often in conversation. London’s famous red double decker buses are enjoyed for their own look, and are icons of the city. In fact, the double decker buses are an evolution of the omni-buses that started in the 1800s. In 1829 George Shillibeer ran the first Omnibus from the Yorkshire Stingo Paddington to the Bank*. It was a three horsepower bus. Pulled by three horses. By 1929, the General Onmibus Company had over 1100 miles of routes in the greater London area*. Only London’s cabs are loved more. Nissan is about to make a major push to become part of that lore and it faces about 200 years of tradition.
The true London cabs (remember, taxi is a French word), are black and have unique roof signs. Nissan worked with the Transport for London (TfL) to ensure compliance with the Conditions of Fitness (CoF) which were defined during the turn of the century. Not this century, but around 1906. Rather than update the standards, vehicle makers must instead re-design the vehicles to meet the old guidelines. One old guideline that is not just for tradition is the turning radius specification. Since London has such small streets the turning radius must be incredibly sharp. Skilled London cabbies can make a turn without doing the “K.” They can swing the vehicle around and be off in a shot. To meet this requirement in what is basically a small minivan, Nissan redesigned the front steering and suspension components to turn almost a full 90 degrees. That would be a suicidal idea in a daily driver vehicle, but London’s cabbies are held to a high standard and can handle the vehicle. Unique high wheel arches had to be employed to make this work and the look is actually attractive. Practicality continues in the dual sliding door design that allows the inside of the cab to be a huge box able to be exited on either side. The curb side is larger than the non-curb side for ease of entry. London’s famous skyline is also visible through the mandatory glass roof each cab will have.
Environmentally the NV200 shines. Its 89 hp diesel engine is capable of an astounding 53 mpg according to the test cycle employed in London. Compared to other designs in use the CO2 and NOx emissions are very low. Further environmental benefits will come later in an all-electric version of the cab.