back to article Chinese e-cars to turn London cabs green

Chinese car manufacturer BYD will help to make the streets of London just a little bit greener after signing a deal with the capital’s second largest minicab service to supply the city’s first fleet of electric taxis. Greentomatocars, which describe itself as “London’s second largest quality minicab service”, signed a Memorandum …

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Silver badge

EuroNCAP first

I would like to see this car undergoing a proper EuroNCAP first.

Second - "proprietary battery technology" is all nice but it requires similarly "proprietary" recycling facilities. Does BYD have recycling facilities in Europe? If they do not, they are not compliant to Eu directives on car waste so they can take it and sell it elsewhere. Leaking end of life batteries with "proprietary" chemistry - definitely NIBMY.

Reading the accident report I have to agree - everyone in the car was dead on the spot, before it hit the tree. No car could survive a direct hit from a Nissan GTR traveling at (estimated) 180km/h at the moment of the collision.

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Re: EuroNCAP first

A direct hit at (estimated) 180km/h is indeed severe, but the Reg article actually suggests worse ". . . the vehicle, which was ploughed into by a Nissan GT-R sports car going 150 miles per hour." That would be 240km/h.

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Devil

Re: EuroNCAP first

Not 240 - 180. The important thing is the difference - the taxi was going at 60+ and the GTR rear-ended it incoming at ~ 240. The difference in speed was 180. After that it careered off the road (still going at ~ 60+) and whatever was left of it impaled itself on a tree short-circuiting the battery distribution system and smashing some of the batteries in the process. The report is unclear if it was the taxi that also hit another taxi in front during that or that was the remains of the GTR.

All in all, I am surprised the batteries did not explode outright. A similar smashup with a petrol car (rear end collision followed by impaling the "tank" area on a tree) would have caused a tank rupture and a "Pinto Redux".

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Anonymous Coward

The

Chinese got hold of Maganese Bronze the cab makers here in the UK and it has gone bust.

Maybe this is a conspiracy? I just cannot be coincidence can it?

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Re: EuroNCAP first

It's pretty rare for a fuel tank to go up, any component that might pierce the tank is plastic or plastic covered or can only contact plastic components to prevent the production of sparks (this was the lesson learnt from the Pinto and in fact surviving Pintos were re-called and fitted with a plastic shield between diff and tank). A ruptured tank on it's own will not cause fire or explosion and in the event of a large fuel leak it is only petrol VAPOUR which burns, liquid petrol not so much and even then you need a spark. This is why the tanks tend to be well away from any significant source of sparks, the only heat they get is the very end of the exhaust and maybe rear brakes which while hot won't necessarily cause combustion and if it does, it'll be more fire than explosion.

The trouble with batteries is that when they malfunction, rather than being the fuel for combustion they're the ignition source.. and potentially the fuel.. and potentially a pressure vessel. oops.

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Meh

Baggage

Luggage capacity will be for hand luggage only as the batteries will take up most of the space, a tow rope and 3 mile long extension cable will take up the rest.

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Re: EuroNCAP first

A minute or so on Google and you will find loads of reports of car crashes where the fuel tank ruptures and catches fire. One of the first I found was a Honda Civic that was struck by a Jeep doing an estimated 50mph (a tad less than in this crash). The result was that "Gasoline poured from a ruptured tank, ignited and engulfed the car in flames, trapping the occupants inside."

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Re: EuroNCAP first

"Second - "proprietary battery technology" is all nice but it requires similarly "proprietary" recycling facilities."

Funny you should say that. AFAIK the UK has *no* battery recycling facilities. They are shipped to France.

I agree if it ships in the EU it should pass EU regs. After all aren't we all world suppliers now?

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Re: Baggage

The boot is a bit small but not that bad.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: The

"Chinese got hold of Maganese Bronze the cab makers here in the UK and it has gone bust.

Maybe this is a conspiracy? I just cannot be coincidence can it?"

If you really want a conspiracy then note the reason that Maganese Bronze has gone bust is that their new ownsers decied to switch the sourcing of the power steering system to a new Chinese supplier 4 months ago and they've discovered that the new components "aren't up to the high standard we expected" since they've failed on at least 2 new taxis.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: The

I'm no taxi spotter... but from what I see Manganese Bronze failed to innovate. I was sat in the back of a black cab the other day and the promo-add for the next black cab was more of the same nothing clever at all. So even I could see that a cabbie isnt going to bother to change from their current cab to more of the same.

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Re: The

Well if someone takes them over and starts putting electric motors in then it'd be good.

Might need the mayor to encourage someone to install battery rental scheme with swapping stations about the place ... put them in the road at junctions maybe and then time them with the traffic lights.

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Boffin

"Manganese Bronze failed to innovate"

You can say that again - I believe the TX4's chassis (no monocoque construction here) owes much to the FX4's, which came from the Austin FX3, which dates back to 1948 or so...

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Flame

Re: EuroNCAP first

I was side-swiped by some muppet while on my Kawasaki z650 - the petrol tank ruptured due to the impact (the front end was pretty much ripped off) and I can tell you that 3.5 gallons of petrol makes for a nice bon-fire. But it didn't explode, just burnt hot enough to turn the carbs (alloy) to slag and partially melt the Akront Ally rear wheel. All traces of paint and plastic were completely burnt away, leaving just bare metal.

Fortunately, I was thrown clear and landed about 30ft away (although bystanders dragged the burning bike clear of the car as they didn't at first see me and thought I was trapped under the wreck).

So these Hollywood movies where the car always explodes in a ball of flame are just for show - the reality is much less exciting.

(icon for obvious reasons)

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186 miles?

I'm pretty sure even London cabbies go further than that every day, so I'm confused. How can this possibly work?

Or are they saying they all need two

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Devil

Re: 186 miles?

It looks like the taxi ranks will be getting charging sockets which IMHO is an unfair subsidy.

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Alert

Re: 186 miles?

These are minicabs not taxis. There is a difference, as any taxi driver will happily point out*...

Presumably the cars will recharge while waiting for their next booked job.

*Robust language may be involved.

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Re: 186 miles?

Well, the average speed in London during rush hour is well under 10mph, but even outside that time you are looking at about 15mph average for central London. That would take over 12 hours to do 186 miles. According to a programme by PBS the average New York taxi drives 180 miles in a 12 hour shift, so this sounds about right.

This page about UK cab drivers shows that they do tend to average less than 180 miles per day.

The one major issue is that you can't have multiple drivers sharing one of these cars for 24 hours a day without charging between shifts - but I don't know how big an issue that will be.

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Bronze badge
Meh

Re: 186 miles?

I believe stop-start type traffic also hits the battery like it does with a normal petrol/diesel car.

If a car is moving only the momentum needs to be maintained thereby requiring less energy. I fear its going to fail if they don't have charging points at the taxi ranks, which will then mess up their queing system of first come first traveller.

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Re: 186 miles?

The one major issue is that you can't have multiple drivers sharing one of these cars for 24 hours a day without charging between shifts - but I don't know how big an issue that will be.

I don't know London taxi economics, but in this part of the world the cost of a vehicle, particularly because of huge licence fees, makes it untenable to not operate a taxi on a 24 hour basis. Owners just cannot afford to have cars sitting idle. This does sound like an economic disaster unless these vehicles are cheap and licensing fees are minimal or adjusted accordingly.

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Where will the power come from?

Certainly not our unreliable wind farms, maybe we'll import it from East Europe?

Taxis powered by old, dirty coal electricity? My yes, that is green.

Boris is just after good news and a bit of greenwash. If he (or any government official) gave two craps about the environment or pollution, they'd be sticking the boot into Virgin, First Group, Stagecoach etc about our shabby and over-priced bus and train services.

But they're not, because all the free junkets and schmoozing is vastly more important than the nation itself.

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Bronze badge

Re: Where will the power come from?

But the point is that the power source will be cleaned up over time, rather than getting worse over time.

Battery tech aside (as that's unknown to me at this time) electric cars will gain all the efficiencies and cleaning options as they are fitted to the centralised power conversion units.

This means that you add scrubbers to one power station and you've improved the efficiency of thousands of cars.

Additionally it massively improves air quality in the overpopulated regions of the country - maybe moving parliament to Manchester (no affiliation, but it's a large city and far enough away from me) would reduce congestion in London rather nicely...

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WTF?

Re: Where will the power come from?

You're missing the massive benefit of improved air quality for people living and working in the city. As someone that falls into both categories, and cycles through London, I wish all vehicles were electric so my lungs could get a rest. This move alone isn't going to do much, but the more electric vehicles the better.

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Re: Where will the power come from?

The point is that the power source is getting worse right now - by importing dirty power (and building more dirty power plants). You cannot claim green creds with one hand and spend them with the other.

We must also consider the batteries which can (in their manufacture and disposal) be highly polluting. So any gains that might be gained are offset by that as we can't just consider the "greeness" at point of use, it must be from cradle to grave.

We already have technology right now that could be put into use, we've had it for decades. But our government officials are too busy helping their pals trouser tax-payer money than deliver an efficient and reliable service. Which would also address your air quality issues.

I am continually amazed at mass transit in other countries. Clean (inside and exhaust), fair (and understandable!) prices and reliable. Meanwhile in the UK unless you book six blue moons in advance on a Tuesday whilst wearing green boxers, you will get gouged and still not be sure which trains you can get on at the station because your ticket might not be valid on that service from A-B, even though it runs on the same tracks from the same operator.

It's a farce and with current tech e-cars are simply an answer looking for a problem as there are still other solutions to personal transport. "Boris bikes" (to pick one). Cure the obesity epidemic and pollution in one!

More joined-up thinking, less joined-up PR puffery and tax-payer milking.

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Re: Where will the power come from?

You're missing the massive benefit of improved air quality for people living and working in the city.

You're missing the massive cost of reduced air quality for people living near the dirty stations and the total environment cost. But so long as city wonks can are happy, who cares? Isn't that our economic policy as well?

I wish all vehicles were electric so my lungs could get a rest.

When I used to cycle through a city, I wore a mask and replaced the filters regularly. At an individual level, yours is a solved problem.

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Facepalm

Re: Where will the power come from?

Hasn't Boris heard? Ofgem already thinks there's a risk of power shortages risk by 2015. So by 2020 there will be a risk of not being able to get a cab home and you'll have to walk home along the unlit streets. On the bright side, it won't be all that late, because the nightclubs will be dark and quiet. On an even brighter note, if the power's out, all the beer will come from a proper hand pump....

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Masks

The BigYin: "When I used to cycle through a city, I wore a mask and replaced the filters regularly. At an individual level, yours is a solved problem."

You really think that "cycling masks" protect you from city air pollution?

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Boris the hypocrite

Going on about electric vehicles, yet he's the one who cancelled the western extension of the congestion charge zone to please his Chelsea tractor-owning chums.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Where will the power come from?

@MastaBlasta Its more a case of outsourcing London's shite to somewhere else, so pretty much the norm then hey

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Re: Where will the power come from?

@Snow Hill Island - Hence why I say we'd need to import power. But so long as the city types can breathe easier as they sup their lattes, who cares? Certainly not them it seems. As ever, they expect the rest of us to pay.

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Re: Where will the power come from?

all the beer will come from a proper hand pump....

If only it were so. Unfortunately the fizzy piss is dispensed by use of gas pressure, not electric pump. Even more unfortunately, the inline chiller won't be working, so it will be warm fizzy piss too...

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Re: Masks

@handle - 'You really think that "cycling masks" protect you from city air pollution?'

You really think they don't? If they conform to BS EN 149 and fit well, they should be fairly good.

Anecdote isn't reliable evidence, but I noticed it much easier to breathe when I had mine on.

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Re: Where will the power come from?

@HeyMickey - got to a proper pub then. Decent beer in the UK is definitely a solved problem.

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Re: Masks

@The BigYin: I see you've shifted your position already: "yours is a solved problem" has become "they should be fairly good."

Cycling masks are not gas masks. Even if they remove some particulates (which is to what BS EN 149 refers), they will not remove any toxic gases. And catalytic converters do not remove them all.

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SW
Unhappy

I smell a Chinese plot here

This news coming in the week that it was announced that Manganese Bronze may be going under because of the recall involving the steering box which surprisingly is supplied by their Chinese partners smells a little fishy to me.

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Classic Boris

"It is my aim that London's minicabs and taxis will be zero-emission by 2020, which will have a major impact on air quality"

Yes - anywhere near a power station the air quality is going to plummet to provide London with its 'zero-emission' minicab fleet.

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Bronze badge

It's about bleeding time. Why on earth does London's taxi fleet run entirely on noisy, smoky, diesel engines? Any pedestrian can vouch for how unpleasant it is. The sooner we get those smelly old things off the streets, the better!

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Anonymous Coward

I agree - except they're not that old. Most of the cabs on the streets are only a few years old but Mangenese Bronze didn't move with the times, selling very expensive cabs that tourists can take photos of, but with nasty diesel engines. Meanwhile Nissan and Mercedes-Benz come along and do the same thing, but better and I'm sure they'll both have hybrid taxis on the market before you can say "you'll never guess who I 'ad in the back the other day".

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Sorry Guv'nor

I don't go north of 35 miles

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Bronze badge

So our little piggie Tim Yeo of a certain parliament select committee has managed to get one of his green companies as a preferred supplier backed by Borris. Now all he has to do is get the extra runway he wanted at Heathrow to let him get to China faster and everyone should be happy.

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Thumb Up

Power?

How about a sail, powered by Boris's hot air? Or a big key, then Boris could literally be a wind-up merchant.

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Back to the old problem

7 billion people breeding like rats and no long term plan how to transport/house/feed them. The only long term plan involves punitive taxes on breeding to get population down to sustainable levels. And in the short term accept nuclear power as we shagged ourselves into a corner.

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Re: Back to the old problem

I believe Motorhead came up with a solution for this problem some years ago....

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Hope to find it in a picture soon so to avoid it next time in London. Will never support Chinese companies

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Anonymous Coward

Hopefully its not using the same Chinese designed power steering unit that was used in Manganese Bronze's taxis.

The failure was the last straw and the company has gone into administration. Not a very good example of British and Chinese co-operation.

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Anonymous Coward

Trouble with Chinese batterys is...

....after 186 miles you feel like another one.

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