Now this is different! Prowling the fringe exhibits, Autoblog's John Neff ran across this innovative CityCab concept - the creation of a student design team in Finland.

Looking for all the world like a modern recreation of the London cab, the CityCab is powered by the Toyota Hybrid Synergy Drive from a Prius, and features a height-adjustable air suspension, carbon fiber bodywork, and a wheelchair-friendly interior.

The CityCab is a cooperative effort of Helsinki Polytechnic and the University of Art and Design Helsinki, and more information on the project is available at the CityCab website. In the meantime, check out the pictures and press release after the jump.


Press Release:

CityCab - the Next Generation Taxi Cab Is Here!

Today, public transportation in most metropolitan areas is fluent, but using a private passenger car is becoming more and more problematic. This stresses the importance of a functional taxi system. A traditional passenger car or a van transformed into a taxicab is not by far the best solution. What we need is a special vehicle similar to the London Cab, but redesigned and equipped with the latest technology. Helsinki Polytechnic and the University of Art and Design Helsinki share a common view of the next generation metropolitan taxicab - the CityCab. It serves as a starting point for international discussion on what the passengers and drivers really want.

Putting Customers First

The design of the CityCab is based on a detailed passenger survey. The passengers' wishes have been realized by using the latest vehicle technology and innovative design. The CityCab is designed for five passengers with an option for one passenger using a wheel chair. Getting on the car is easy as the vehicle's air suspension system allows the floor level to be lowered to a desired height during a stop. Making the floor completely even and the entrance wider has facilitated the easy entrance even further. The CityCab offers space, comfort and a luxorious leather interior turning the taxi ride into an experience. The car's futuristic and distinguished form gives the customer an idea of what's to come.

Safe and Environmentally Friendly Solution

The 21st century taxicab needs to be environmentally friendly and safe. CityCab's fuel consumption and emissions are both extremely low thanks to the hybrid powertrain by Toyota and the vehicle's ultra-light body. The carbon fibre composite body manufactured using a novel SPRINT technology weighs 75% less than a steel body and it's also cost-competitive. The vehicle's crashworthiness has been determined through computer simulation tests.

Purpose-designed for Cabdriver

Customers usually spend very little time on a taxicab but it's the cabdriver's workplace for the whole work shift. CityCab provides the driver with easy entrance, ideal ergonomy and the latest specialty equipment integrated in the cockpit modules. Servicing the customer is easy. On top of all this, the car is incredibly easy to handle: CityCab's turning circle is only 6.9 metres. This front wheel drive car practically turns in its place thanks to its four wheel steering!

Future Prospects?

CityCab is not merely a prototype built into a show car. It is a fully functional research vehicle whose functionality will be tested against other current alternatives in the taxi traffic of Helsinki metropolitan areas. Prior to this, it will be shown at international car shows where the taxicab's performance will be systematically evaluated from the standpoints of both customers and experts. For the time being, CityCab is a non-commercial R&D project even though more than 40 companies are involved in the project. Helsinki Polytechnic, the project leader, is however willing to negotiate the commercial application of the work accomplished.


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