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The Turks are coming

London’s taxi drivers could be about to go from a famine to a feast in 2014, with a wider choice of taxi models than ever before. Nissan recently unveiled its London version of the NV200 cab, and an electric version of the same taxi model is due to follow. But at the recent London Motor Expo in Canary Wharf, Turkish car manufacturer Karsan unveiled its own new taxi.

The company’s CEO’s Claude and Jan Nahum - the leading lights behind the new cab - presented its right hand drive, zero emission, electric Concept V1, which is fully compliant with London’s Standards of Fitness. The cab has a 25 feet turning circle (rear steering), a zero emission electric owertrain (range 80-100 miles), an on-board quick charge unit (for any AC power supply) and a large driver’s cabin. But the Concept V1 also aims, says Jan Nahum, to provide “a new dimension in transportation freedom for those with impaired mobility, people travelling in wheelchairs, the elderly and people with strollers, prams and those with a lot of luggage.” The generously proportioned Concept V1 has a remarkably fast electrically operated wheelchair ramp, which can be used on either side of the cab.

What a definite head turner it was last week! As it rounded the corner at Canary Wharf’s Jubilee concourse, cab drivers were suddenly confronted by a familiar, yet unfamiliar, taxi. With a ‘Future London Taxi’ overall wrap, the black Concept V1 proved to be quite an elegant taxi shape. Unlike other taxi models on the market – except the TX4 - it was designed as a cab from scratch.

The Concept V1 rose to prominence in 2011 at the Taxi of Tomorrow contest in New York, where it made the shortlist of three, along with the Nissan NV200 and Ford’s Transit Connect. Its quirky details, such as the glassroof, spacious interior and all round styling made it the New Yorkers’ clear favourite to win, and it won the popular vote. The London version of the cab retains the glass roof, which makes it very light inside.

Passengers and drivers will benefit from pre-fitted GPS, infotainment and payment systems with plug-in charging outlets, so passengers can stay connected during their taxi trip. Karsan is one of the main vehicle manufacturers in Turkey and has been producing cars for over 45 years, including large volumes of commercial trucks and buses for third parties like Renault, Peugeot, Hyundai, Citroën and BredaMenarinibus.

The taxi model was designed by its sister company, Hexagon Design, which specialises in transport before being developed by Karsan. Karsan is likely to go for national partnerships for sales and maintenance but the cab will probably be manufactured in Turkey. Production dates and pricing levels are unclear as yet but the all-inclusive Concept V1, especially as EV, would, with the right price and specs, be a strong and attractive contender for the London taxi market.

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