For a over a year, Eco City Vehicles (EVC) has successfully been offering London taxi drivers a more modern choice of vehicle in the shape of the Vito from Mercedes Benz (pictured above). Now comes word that the company aims to sell an all-electric version as well. Affixed with the fitting appellation "Mercedes Electric eVito Taxi" or "eVito" for short if you like (and we do, thank you very much), the new variation shares with its diesel cousin a special rear-wheel-steering set-up that allows it to meet the famous 25-foot turning radius required of the city's cabs. What it doesn't share is its new tailpipe-free drivetrain.

Fitted with a 70 kW (94 horsepower) motor from Zytec Automotive drawing electricity from a lithium-ion battery pack, the eVito is said to be capable of 120 miles of "typical" mixed cycle driving with performance much the same as the original Mercedes taxis. With hopes of having a product on the streets before the 2012 Olympics that will meet the Mayor Boris Johnson's proposed new clean air standards, EVC will begin "controlled trials" later this year to make sure the modified machines can deal with the rigors of London taxi life. Official press release after the break.

*UPDATE: Apparently, Eco City Vehicles was not involved here. See clarification press release after the jump as well.

[Source: Eco City Vehicles]


Eco City Vehicles PLC: Mercedes All Electric Taxi Launched

LONDON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Eco City Vehicles PLC ("Eco City" or "ECV" or "the Group"), a developer and supplier of eco-friendly commercial vehicles and the London licensed taxi, is pleased to announce the launch today of an all electric prototype of the London-licensed Mercedes Vito taxi (Vito), which was co-developed and is distributed exclusively by the Group.

Called the Mercedes Electric eVito Taxi (eVito), the zero-emissions, lithium-ion battery vehicle was developed by a consortium of high-technology engineering companies including ECV's manufacturing partner Penso, Mercedes Benz UK and Zytec Automotive.

One80 Ltd, an associate company of the Group, provides its patented rear-wheel steering technology for the eVito as well as the Vito taxi, enabling the vehicle to meet the Public Carriage Office requirement for a minimum turning circle of 25 feet.

Later this year, the consortium plans to conduct controlled trials to confirm eVito's suitability for road usage as a London licensed taxi.

The electric taxi is powered by Zytek's 70kW electric powertrain and expected to exceed a total range of 120 miles in a typical mixed drive cycle on a single charge. The vehicle's performance is predicted to be similar to the internal combustion engine taxi, making it an ideal choice for inner city transportation and London cabbies. With zero emissions, it is also expected to be fully compliant with the Mayor of London's proposed new clean air standards for London taxis, due to be introduced in time for the London Olympics.

The Group believes that the advanced technologies used in the eVito also offers considerable potential for developing other types of eco-friendly commercial vehicles targeted at urban areas.

Peter DaCosta, Chief Executive Officer of Eco City Vehicles, commented: "The eVito is the first all-electric wheelchair accessible taxi with a 25-foot turning circle to be launched in the world and a major step towards our goal to become a leading supplier of niche eco-friendly vehicles. Subject to successful trials, the eVito together with the already popular Vito taxi, provides London with a great opportunity to reduce air pollution with modern vehicles. We have taken on board Mayor Boris Johnson's wish for a cleaner London and I'm confident this will contribute to meeting his goal."

About Eco City Vehicles

Eco City Vehicles plc is an established specialist vehicle distributor and a leading after-sales service centre for the London Taxi owner-driver market. Eco City Vehicles is in the process of expanding its product lines by distributing environmentally friendly vehicles through its existing channels to market, targeting local authorities, urban vehicle fleet owners (e.g. supermarket chains) and other business users.

The Vito, co-developed by ECV with One80 Ltd and Mercedes Benz, was launched in June 2008 as an alternative to the old-style TX4 taxi. Since then it has captured a more than 30% share of new "black cab" taxi sales in London, becoming an increasingly familiar site in the capital. The Group has also launched a 3.5 tonne series hybrid Mitsubishi truck in the UK.

About Penso

Penso, based in Coventry, are an advanced engineering and niche manufacturing group of companies, providing products and services to mainstream and low volume OEMs globally. Penso manufacture the Vito Taxi for Eco City Vehicles and have been one of the lead partners responsible for the delivery of the eVito taxi prototype.

Important clarification regarding press release titled 'Eco City Vehicles PLC: Mercedes All Electric Taxi Launched' issued February 8th by Eco City Vehicles PLC (ECV)

CENEX, Zytek and the partners involved in the E-Vito electric taxi programme would like to clarify some of the points made in the above release:

1. The E-Vito Taxi was developed by a consortium that is comprised of Zytek, Penso, Vocis, Valence and Mercedes Benz as part of a collaborative research programme part-funded by Advantage West Midlands and managed by Cenex. Eco City Vehicles was not part of this group.
2. The E-Vito Taxi is an engineering prototype that will be used to prove that the technology is achievable and practical for use in an urban taxi. The vehicle has not been 'launched'.

Zytek, one of the world's most experienced developers of powertrains for electric and hybrid vehicles, will be holding a press event during the second quarter of this year at which E-Vito and other electric vehicle programmes and technologies will be discussed.

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