Chances are, if you saw a silhouette of a London Black Cab, or even its headlights in the distance at night, you’d instantly be able to recognize what it is. It’s one of the most iconic cars in the world; it’s instantly recognizable. If you’ve been to London you’ve probably had your photo taken with it right after your friend snapped a pic of you in the red phonebooth…and you don’t know anything about it.
Well, after you read this article you’ll know more than you ever cared to about the famous London Black Cab. Take a look below at our new infographic that explains it all.
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The London Black Cab: Demystified
The iconic London Black Cab is recognized worldwide and is probably the most photographed vehicle in the world. Despite having seen it (or at least pictures and video of it) hundreds of times, you probably don’t know much about the famous car. Well, it’s time to change that. Read up on the black cab in this inforgraphic by Automoblog.net and impress (or annoy) your friends with your new-found knowledge of the London Black Cab.
It’s actually called a Hackney Carriage, which is derived from the former village of Hackney (now part of London,) famous for its horse-drawn carriages.
The official “vehicle for hire” Hackney Carriage dates back to the 17th century, when the vehicle was (big surprise,) a horse-drawn carriage. That slowly evolved into specific terms such as the “Hackney Coach” which had two horses and six seats and the driver’s title was “Jarvey.”
Most London black cabs are manufactured by the London Taxi Company (LTI,) although car makers such as Peugeot, Volkswagen, Mercedes-Benz, and Fiat make specialty-built rivals.
By law, all London cabs must have a turning radius of 25 ft or smaller. This requirement stems from the exceptionally small roundabout in front of the famous Savoy Hotel in London.
Current London black cabs such as the TX4 are built with specialty features like swivel seats, wheelchair accessibility via fold-out ramp, hearing loops and intercom for the heraing impaired, low step height, high-visibility for the vision impaired and drunk, and the required-by-law 25 ft turning radius.
The most popular current cab – the LTI TX4 – can be purchased in one of 12 colors including purple, “Peacock Green,” “Nightfire Red,” and three shades of blue. Obviously, black is most popular color by far.
The TX4 comes with the driver’s choice of petrol or turbo-diesel four-cylinder engines – with displacements of 2.4 and 2.5 litres, respectively. The petrol engine gets 150 hp, while the diesel only manages 101 hp. The cost for such performance and accessibility: the TX4 starts at £31,995 ($51,000)
The Future of the Black Cab:
As part of the HyTEC (Hydrogen Transport for European Cities) project, there are currently five zero-emission London cabs cruising around powered only by hydrogen fuel cells. This phase is a test, and will hopefully result in a stronger hydrogen fuel infrastructure and full hydrogen fleet by 2020.
Nissan, taking advantage of the Hackney Carriage’s iconic fame, used the London 2012 Olympics to advertise its own version of the ‘black cab’ – a special version of its NV200 Light Commercial Vehicle (LCV.) Nissan claims the NV200 is more affordable, better on CO2 emissions, and gets 50% better fuel economy than the current available cabs. They’re also planning on testing an all-electric version for release somewhere around 2017
Note: NEVER use an unlicensed vehicle in London – especially women. Always book in advance or have the place you’re leaving call you a Licensed Black Cab, or go to a reputable licensed minicab office. You can also book Black Cabs through new apps on your smartphone, two of which are GetTaxi and Hailo.
- A few famous people drive black cabs for personal use including Actor and Author Stephen Fry, Prince Philip, and oil millionaire Nubar Gulbenkian
- Every licensed taxi driver in London must pass “The Knowledge” – a brutal test of London’s streets and points of interest
- Among the many strange things left in the back seat of London cabs, a cat in a basket (given to the RSPCA,) and £20,000 worth of cash in £50 notes have been found
- There are around 22,000 black cabs on the streets of London today; it’s no wonder you can’t go 10 seconds without seeing one