Flagging down a taxi in many cities can be tricky. In most you're looking for a regular car with a little light on the roof. In New York you're spotting yellow-painted cars. But in London, the cabs aren't just painted different, they're entirely different cars, unmistakable and easily discernable from the rest of traffic. London taxis are iconic, and now their manufacturer, LTI Vehicles, has taken the wraps off the latest "Hackney Carriage": the TX4.
Interestingly, with all the major British car marques having been bought up by foreign manufacturers, LTI Vehicles is the largest British-owned passenger car manufacturer in the UK. Their new TX4 remains faithful to the original 1959 FX4 but upgrades with some significant modern touches. Power comes from a 2.5-liter DOHC common-rail turbodiesel sourced from VM Motori (an Italian engine manufacturer jointly-owned by Penske and DaimlerChrysler), fully compliant with Euro IV regulations and driving through either a Chrysler 5-speed auto box or an Eaton 5-speed manual. The TX4 also features anti-lock braking (a first for London cabs) and a more user-friendly interior with improved access, blending modern ergonomics with the classic design.
As mandated by the Public Carriage Office, the car has a 25-foot turning circle, which helps the driver pull a U-turn when a fare's whistling from the opposite side of the street. Prices on the road range from £27-35.5k.
Interior pics and full press release after the jump.
[Source: LTI Vehicles]
WORLD LAUNCH OF THE NEW BRITISH BUILT TX4 TAXI
Today, 18 October 2006, LTI Vehicles is launching their new purpose built TX4 range of London style taxis. The new TX4 is so named as a tribute to LTIs first purpose built Hackney Carriage, the FX4, launched in 1959, and also the fact that the new vehicle has a Euro IV compliant 2.5-litre turbodiesel engine. The new TX4 range of taxis replace the TXII models introduced in 2002.
The new TX4 is an evolution of past generations of LTIs iconic London style black cabs gained over almost 60 years of experience. Just as its predecessors, the new TX4 is distinctively styled, it cannot be mistaken by users as anything other than a purpose built taxi and it cannot be confused with mass produced Private Hire Vehicles. The new vehicle has a wealth of advancements, all tried and tested, and then tested again, making it the best and most advanced taxi in the world.
Peter Shillcock, Managing Director of LTI Vehicles said today, "We have invested three years of development and over £5 million in bringing the TX4 to market. We are committed to continually improving our taxis and the development of the TX4 has undergone more component and road testing than anything we have ever built. Over one million kilometres of testing, equivalent to 30 times around the world, has taken place. This includes 5,000 kilometres of chassis and suspension durability testing over Pave cobbled road surfaces. The TX4 has been tested in real-life extreme hot and cold climates and simulated conditions using the wind tunnel at MIRA."
He added, "We believe without question the TX4 is quite simply the best purpose built taxi ever made and it will set the standard for years to come. The TX4 is without doubt a milestone not only for LTI Vehicles but the whole taxi industry.
No other taxi is as robust or renowned as the TX series and now LTI have made it even better. The new TX4 has a cleaner, more efficient Euro IV compliant diesel engine from VM Motori, new transmissions, the addition of anti-lock braking, a smooth and more comfortable ride, improved user friendly interior specification, equipment and facilities for the able and disabled, all complimented by a redesigned, stylish exterior which retains the iconic British built taxi appearance. Of course, it still has the famous 25 feet turning circle required by the Public Carriage Office. The legend lives on.
The new TX4 is available with four levels of specification; Driver, Bronze, Silver and Gold with prices starting at £26,995 on the road. The £2,000 price increase over the outgoing models is due to the use of a Euro IV compliant engine, new transmissions, the adoption of ABS braking and the vastly enhanced equipment levels.
Basic retail VAT *Total On The Road Price
TX4 Driver Manual £22,308.08 £3,985.83 £26,995.00
TX4 Driver Auto £23,993.19 £4,280.72 £28,995.00
TX4 Bronze Manual £24,435.74 £4,358.17 £29,495.00
TX4 Bronze Auto £26,696.31 £4,578.60 £30,995.00
TX4 Silver Manual £26,563.40 £4,730.51 £31,995.00
TX4 Silver Auto £27,822.97 £4,950.94 £33,495.00
TX4 Gold Manual £28,180.42 £5,013.49 £33,895.00
TX4 Gold Auto £29,525.10 £5,248.81 £35,495.00
*Includes on the road package/VED/first registration fee
Traditionally, the most popular models in the TX range have been the Bronze and Silver specification variants accounting for 65% of UK sales. Around 70% of drivers and operators choose the automatic transmission option. LTI annually produce nearly 3,000 purpose built taxis at their Coventry manufacturing facility.
The bigger picture
It is not possible to outline the latest credentials of the new TX4 British built taxi being launched today without first understanding a little about the long heritage and history of the brand and this British company.
The British built Hackney Carriage, or London style taxi, manufactured by LTI Vehicles from Coventry is the most recognisable passenger car in the world, there is no other vehicle like this iconic taxi. It is designed and built to meet the rigorous demands and regulations set by the UK's Public Carriage Office for purpose built taxis.
It is not unusual for a Hackney Carriage to cover over 1,000,000 miles in a 10 year period so in addition to the need for them to be distinctive and easily recognised as a Hackney Carriage, they have to be durable, reliable and fit for purpose. A design and build process of evolution rather than revolution has given us the London style taxi known all around the world today.
Where did it all start?
Carbodies Ltd, which became London Taxis International in 1984, was established in 1919 in Coventry as a coach-building operation. The company grew and moved to the current LTI Vehicles site in Holyhead Road in Coventry in 1928. In 1948 the company built its first taxi, the FX3, based on an Austin vehicle and since that time over 100,000 taxis have been built.
In 1959 the company produced its own first purpose built taxi – the FX4. In 1973 Carbodies was bought by Manganese Bronze Holdings plc and in 1984 they formed London Taxis International also known as LTI Vehicles, to manufacture and sell taxis.
British to the core
Today, LTI Vehicles is the largest remaining British owned passenger car manufacturer in the UK, employing over 400 people.
As the rules and regulations governing the requirements for purpose built taxis have changed over the years so have the LTI models. The outgoing model is the TXII which is sold of course in London, where purpose built taxis are exclusively required and it is a common sight in other cities and towns throughout Great Britain. The TXII is also exported to 35 different countries around the world including USA, China, Spain, Pakistan, South Africa and Japan. No wonder the company slogan for their taxis is "Hailed the world over."
Earlier this month Manganese Bronze Holdings plc, the parent company of LTI Vehicles, announced it had signed a Heads of Terms agreement with Chinese car manufacturer Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co. Ltd. (Geely) to establish a £53 million joint venture company to produce the iconic London black taxi in Shanghai for the Chinese market. From mid 2008 the joint company will produce 20,000 London taxis for sale in China and there is the possibility of supplying some Chinese sourced components to LTIs UK manufacturing headquarters in Coventry.
The new TX4 – an evolution
The TX4 builds on the heritage and reliability of all the London style taxis produced by LTI Vehicles. More than ever, the TX4 represents instant recognisability as a taxi, durability and reliability, safety, comfort and efficiency.
The TX4 has an entirely redesigned front end that hints back at a bygone era – retro styling with a modern touch. At the front are a totally new bonnet and a stylish new mesh radiator grille. The rear of the vehicle has also been updated with new light clusters, a high rear brake light and improved parcel shelf and plinth.
The TX4 still retains the strong and durable purpose built chassis to which the bodyshell is attached. The new coil spring rear suspension and revised front suspension systems introduced to the outgoing TXII models at the end of 2005 to improve passenger and driver comfort and handling are also used for the new TX4. This system, like the rest of the LTI taxis, was designed to cope with the rigours of poor roads over a long lifespan. In particular the increased use of traffic calming measures such as 'sleeping policeman' that cause structural damage to conventional vehicles as well as providing an uncomfortable ride for passengers and drivers alike. The all important 25 feet turning circle is retained in compliance with the Public Carriage Office requirements for Hackney Carriages. Industry figures show there are 32,000 purpose built taxis using their 25 feet turning circle to make six U-turns an hour, every day of every week.
New Euro IV engine
Taxis are the workhorses of our streets. That is why LTI Vehicles, together with VM Motori, the Italian engine producer, (51% owned by the Penske Corporation and 49% by DaimlerChrysler), have developed their VM R425 DOHC four-cylinder, 2.5-litre, toothed belt driven double overhead camshafts, common rail, Euro IV compliant turbodiesel engine with twin balancer shafts, especially for the TX4. The engine mapping has been configured to supply maximum torque at low speeds for quick acceleration and improved flexibility across a wide power band for optimum performance in traffic and on the open road, all with the lowest possible emissions and fuel consumption. This engine is cleaner and quieter than the previous power units used with no loss in power or performance. The engine can also use 5% Bio-Diesel mix without modification.
Matthew Cheyne, Sales and Marketing Director for LTI Vehicles said, "Some people will want to know why we have moved away from using a Ford sourced diesel engine as we did with the TXII taxi. There are several reasons. Seventy per of our customers specify and automatic transmission and the new VM engine comes complete with such a unit which is specifically compatible for use with their latest Euro IV engine. The Italian VM company produce engines for markets and manufacturers around the world, and since our taxis are now sold to world markets we needed to change to a world engine.
He added, "Another reason is the fact that a Ford unit was not suitable for fitment to our new TX4 left hand drive models, so again this meant a change of engine supplier."
Fuel consumption figures:
Transmission: 5 Speed Manual 5 Speed Automatic
Drive Cycle mpg litres/100km mpg litres/100km
- Urban 28.0/10.1 25.5/11.1
- Extra Urban 41.5/6.8 38.2/7.4
- Combined 35.2/8.0 32.0/8.8
CO2 Emissions (g/km) 211 233
Drive to the rear wheels is through a Chrysler electronically controlled five-speed automatic transmission or operators can specify an Eaton five-speed manual gearbox.
Now with five speeds, the fully automatic transmission is electronically linked to the engine's management system so they both operate in partnership. The carefully chosen ratios match engine output to road speed for the most efficient use of available power with seamless gear changes.
The five-speed manual transmission is manufactured with increased casing rigidity and the latest composite construction gearshift lever technology for improved durability. It is specifically matched to suit the VM engine characteristics and taxi use. There is even synchromesh on first gear. Ergonomic and comfortable with reduced noise all add to easier driving.
Anti-Lock Braking – another first
The TX4 is all about safety, both for its drivers and passengers which is why the TX4 is now equipped with all-round ABS anti-lock braking. This new system has been specifically designed by TRW for the TX4 taxi. The system has undergone extensive durability testing because of the unique working cycle of a taxi in all conditions at home or abroad. The ABS system features larger callipers for the front disc brakes and the self adjusting rear drum units are retained as this combination provides the best long life durability coupled with long intervals between servicing, simple maintenance and low servicing costs. Under electronic control and ready for action at all times, the system senses when a wheel is about to lock and releases the brake momentarily so the wheel keeps turning without affecting the steering control. The new ABS system will stand up to the toughest working, weather and climate conditions at home or abroad.
Looking after the cabbie
On average taxi drivers spend over 3,000 hours a year in their cabs. So to make their lives just that bit more comfortable the new TX4 has an ergonomic seat with lumbar support and armrest. For a taxi driver their cab is their office, so the TX4 is designed around them and it sets a new standard for the professional driver. With the 'command' driving position and large glass area all around the vehicle including a one-piece rear window, the TX4 provides safe all round visibility so operators can see any potential hazards or fares with ease.
Driver safety is a big issue in this day and age of increased violence and crime. The vehicle has a tough Piexiglas Resist 65 attack-resistant screen between the driver's compartment and the passenger cabin. It also has a one-touch locking system which allows the cabbie to lock both the driver and passenger compartments separately for added safety.
The dashboard is ergonomically and logically laid out, making it easy to read with all the controls readily to hand. The whole environment is simply designed, around making life as a cab driver as easy as possible. The new TX4 also includes the latest generation of in-car entertainment with clear and easy-to-use controls and full MP3 compatibility.
There are more really useful features as well, small lights for map reading and collecting money. In today's cashless society customers can even pay using the "chip and pin" facility – the ultimate in convenience for busy passengers.
The new Bergstrom air conditioning system provides fresh cool air at the touch of a button for the driver, passengers or both. Whatever the conditions are, everyone will be comfortable in the TX4.
The TX4 has a heavy duty 90-amp/hour battery that replaces the 70a/h battery used in previous models. This is to accommodate all the extra supplementary electronics that cabbies now fit in the vehicles, everything from mobile phone chargers to navigation systems to computers and DVD systems.
One of the main requirements for a Public Carriage Office purpose built taxi is the 25 feet turning circle. This facility enables drivers to pick up their 'fares' kerbside by performing a U-turn in the narrowest of streets if necessary. There is no need to make dangerous three-point turns or make unnecessary trips "around the block" increasing congestion, burning more fuel and creating more emissions just to get the vehicle pointing in the right direction. It is also much safer for passengers to get in to, or out of, a taxi onto the pavement, especially for those in wheelchairs.
Looking after the passengers or 'fares'
It is not only the driver who gets to relax in comfort. The TX4's improved passenger compartment has many useful new touches. There are individual head restraints for every passenger, a child harness and loads of lighting. The passenger compartment controls are now positioned on the doors so they are within reach of all passengers. With wide opening doors, a low sill height and a step if needed, the TX4 is easy to get in and out of. The wide swing doors also help those with limited mobility, as does the intermediate step and swivel seat.
Wheelchair access in some taxis can be a real problem. But the TX4 has a shallow ramp due to its low floor line, making it suitable for both manual and electric wheelchair users to safely get in and out of the vehicle straight on to, or from, the pavement.
The passenger compartment is spacious and designed to accommodate wheelchair users easily. Once in place, the wheelchair and passenger are secured using special harnesses and extendable seat belts.
The intercom system is now located in the centre of the passenger compartment and an induction loop is fitted for the hard of hearing, meaning all five passengers can talk to the driver with ease.
And that's what's great about the TX4; it truly is a taxi for everyone. Its contrasting seat edges and grab handles make life easier for the partially sighted.
The TX4 is the new benchmark for the professional taxi driver and a worthy successor to one of motoring's greatest icons.
TX4 Specification - Principal changes
Euro IV compliant engine
ABS all-round brakes
Coil spring suspension
Improved in-car entertainment
Air-Blend air conditioning
Head restraint system
TX4 Top Ten Driver Benefits
1. The world famous 25 feet turning circle.
2. Ergonomic driver's seat with optional armrest and lumbar support.
3. The view from the command driving position increases driver's confidence and awareness.
4. The all-round visibility means drivers can see potential fares as well as potential hazards more easily.
5. Driver control of the passenger compartment. The driver can override all the switches in the rear.
6. Separate lockable driver and passenger compartments with an independent door locking system.
7. Attack resistant centre division is designed to protect drivers from assault.
8. Spacious luggage area with retention system available.
9. Bolt-on body panels attached to an ultra-strong steel chassis dramatically reduce repair times and costs.
10. A dealer network that is dedicated to fast and effective maintenance of the TX4.
TX4 Top Ten Passenger Benefits
1. The integral, fold-down ramp with extension is easy to use and is designed with a shallow angle for ease of access and departure.
2. Integral fold-down ramp for wheelchair access from normal kerbs without use of extension.
3. Contrasting grab handles and seat edges for partially sighted people.
4 A wheelchair retention system holds wheelchairs firm and secure during transit.
5. A swivel seat to assist people with reduced mobility.
6. Three point seat belts are fitted to all seats.
7. Floor, roof and puddle lighting for safer entry at night, and door handle lights for partially sighted people.
8. Improved voice intercom with repositioned rear speaker and microphones.
9. An adjustable centre rear seat belt harness to suit younger and smaller passengers (18kg upward).
10. An easy to use intermediate step to aid access for people with limited movement and mobility.
What makes the TX4 the ultimate taxi?
Built on the virtues of safety, strength, reliability and function, the latest generation TX4 can be hailed as nothing short of brilliant.
Every need has been considered making frequent tasks in a busy driver's life as easy as possible.
Outstanding drive, comfort, accessibility and protection.
All this and the superb manoeuvrability of the TX4 make it the ultimate driver's taxi.
LTI Vehicles Profile
The world's premier manufacturer of purpose-built taxis
The largest UK owned vehicle manufacturer
Established in Coventry in 1919 as Carbodies Ltd
Built first FX3 in 1948
More than 100,000 vehicles produced since the first FX4 was made in 1959
Built the Fairway, the first truly wheelchair accessible taxi in 1989
The first TXI was made in 1997
The TXII was launched in 2002 and enhanced in 2003
LTI Vehicles employs over 400 staff at the Coventry plant and within the dealer network
LTI is an operating division of Manganese Bronze Holdings plc
There is a national LTI dealer network including four LTI owned Mann & Overton Dealers and over 70 LTI Approved Service Dealers
The product values are to build a taxi that ...
Provides a secure and safe environment for drivers and passengers
Is environmentally friendly with low emissions and made from recyclable materials where possible
Complies with all current and works towards all future planned European vehicle legislation
Is easily recognisable based on the famous shape of the traditional London taxi
Is fully accessible and integrated with other forms of public transport
Offers the best facilities, utility and comfort for drivers and passengers
Is a product with strength, longevity and security
TX4 principal technical specifications
VM 2499cc R425 DOHC four cylinder, 16 valve twin overhead camshaft, twin balancer shafts, direct injection turbocharger with intercooler. Bore/stroke 92mm x 94mm, compression ratio 17.5:1. Max power 75 kW (100.5hp) at 4000 rpm. Max torque 240 NM at 1800 rpm.
Toothed belt drive to overhead camshafts and high pressure fuel supply pump, electronically controlled common rail diesel fuel system, electronic engine management and cold start glow plugs. Passive anti-theft system (PATS). Electrically driven cooling fan.
Manual - Eaton 5-speed (FSO 4205 A) all synchromesh with floor shift.
Hydraulic clutch operation.
Ratios: 1st - 4.08, 2nd - 2.29, 3rd - 1.47, 4th - 1.00, 5th - 0.72, Reverse - 3.79.
Automatic Gearbox - Chrysler 5-speed electronically controlled with floor mounted
cable operated shift lever.
Transmission cooler integral with the radiator.
Ratios: 1st - 3.00, 2nd - 1.67, 3rd - 1.00, 4th - 0.75, 5th - 0.67, Reverse - 2.21.
Rear Axle - Semi floating with hypoid bevel gears ratio 4.1:1.
Suspension and steering: - Independent, double wishbone front suspension with coil springs and telescopic dampers and anti-roll bar. Coil rear springs with trailing arms and Panhard rod.
Power assisted steering. Maximum turning distance between walls 28feet with a 25 feet turning circle between kerbs.
5JKx16 wheels with 175R16C Q speed rating (6PR) tyres. One piece wheel covers.
Brakes: - Developed by TRW, servo assisted front/rear split hydraulic system with electronically controlled Anti-lock Braking System (ABS). Ventilated front discs 278mm (10.9in.) dia. with large four piston callipers. Self adjusting rear drum brakes 254x70mm (10x2.75in.). Cable operated handbrake to rear drums.
Body: - All steel, four door light body mounted on separate cruciform steel chassis. Bolt on front panels, front and rear wings. Electrocoat body protection, wax injected body and chassis. Central division between driver and passenger compartments with an attack resistant acrylic screen. Foam reinforced, moulded front and rear bumpers mounted on steel armatures with separate end caps for easy replacement.
Central door locking (ignition and radio key). Automatic motion sensitive passenger compartment door locks. Tinted glass, laminated windscreen and heated rear screen. Electrically operated windows in front and rear doors. Electrically heated and adjustable door mirrors.
Principal Dimensions (mm/in)
Width: (over mirrors) 2036/80.2
Front overhang: 764/30.1
Rear overhang: 930/36.6
Front track: 1422/56.0
Rear track: 1482/58.4
Ground clearance: 134/5.3
Step height: 208/8.2
Step depth: 280/11.0
Step width: 700/27.6
Sill height: 370/14.6
Ramp extension: 1350/53.2
Door width (max): 880/34.7
Wheelchair door access:
Floor level width: 700/27.6
Waist level width: 780/30.7
Height (door seal to ramp): 1350/53.0
Height inside vehicle: 1400/55.0
Weight: Max permitted gross vehicle weight 2520 Kg. Approximate kerb weight due to equipment fitted 1815 –1975Kg.
Fuel tank: 11 imperial gallons (50 litres)
Fuel consumption figures:
5 Speed Manual
5 Speed Automatic
- Extra Urban
CO2 Emissions (g/km)
Service interval: 10,000 miles.
Warranty: Three-years/100,000 miles, (whichever comes first), six year anti-perforation corrosion.
The TX4 design incorporates the following awards:
- Millennium Products Award
- In recognition of its design and accessibility features
- Coach Makers Award to Industry
- Automotive and Air Industry award for innovative design
- Sir Henry Royce Memorial Foundation Award
- In recognition of contribution to extending the frontiers of achievement and in the pursuit of excellence in the field of transport
- BDI Design Award 2000
- In recognition of environmental and product design projects of quality within the West Midlands
- Independent Living Design Award
- Sponsored by the British Healthcare Trade Association and Phab, awarded for socially inclusive features
A range of dealer-fitted accessories are available from your LTI Vehicles main dealer