The prototype electric version of the Mercedes Vito Taxi that was unveiled in early February is now ready for on-road tests. The companies behind the plug-in taxi – Zytek, Valence Technology, Penso and Mercedes-Benz UK – put the van together in six months (starting with the Benz donor vehicle) and have created a vehicle that can go around 120 kilometers (75 miles) on a six-hour charge with seating for six. Those are decent numbers for a personal electric vehicle (EV), but not ideal for a taxi, since drivers would probably rather be moving more than sitting still. Like the Vauxhall Ampera, the eTaxi could be in service by the time the 2012 London Olympics begin.

The eTaxi uses a 70kW electric drivetrain with a 35kWh li-Ion battery pack from Valence. That's a big pack, and could easily move a smaller vehicle 100+ miles. The last time we got a release about this vehicle, there was some confusion about the companies behind the project. This newest release make us wonder what the EV's range is, since last time we heard it could go 120 miles per charge. We'll see if this gets clarified later.

[Source: Zytek]


Plug-in London Taxi is ready for trials

29 March 2010

A prototype electric version of the Mercedes Vito Taxi has been designed and built in just six months by a consortium of British technology companies. Part-funded by the UK Government's Advantage Niche Vehicle Research & Development Programme, the prototype vehicle meets the demanding requirements of the London Carriage Office and can carry up to six people more than 120 kilometres on a single six hour charge.

The E-Vito taxi uses a new 70kW version of Zytek's proven electric drivetrain and a custom-designed Vocis gearbox built by Graziano. To maximise interior space, the vehicle has been converted to front wheel drive to allow the 35kWh Valence Li-Ion battery pack to be installed beneath the vehicle floor. By lowering the centre of gravity, the low mounting point also improves vehicle stability and ride quality. A steerable rear axle provides the tiny 25ft (7.6m) turning circle required by all licensed black cabs operating in London.

The electric drive uses the existing engine mounting points with minor revisions and requires just three additional connections (water, high voltage electrics and low voltage electrics). It interfaces with all existing vehicle systems including ABS (Antilock Braking System), ESP (Electronic Stability Programme) and OBD (onboard diagnostics). Performance at city speeds is said to be lively, as expected by London's cabbies.

Zytek Automotive sales and marketing director Steve Tremble says that all the technologies are market-ready and thoroughly proven in vehicles already in production. "We could easily have electric taxis in service in-time for the 2012 London Olympics," he says.

The partners in the programme are Zytek, Valence Technology, Penso and Mercedes-Benz UK, which donated the base vehicle.

Zytek has designed and integrated electric drive systems for a wide range of European and US vehicle manufacturers and is currently building high performance electric drivetrains up to 70kW and 300Nm for cars, busses and light commercial vehicles. Their UK facility can accommodate up to 6,000 E-Drive integrations a year in batches as low as 100, providing vehicle manufacturers with a highly flexible specialist production resource for their low carbon programmes. The company was also amongst the first to design and validate a production-ready diesel hybrid

Share This Photo X