Thursday, 26 March 2015

1,000 New Jobs Thanks to London Taxi Company

Up to 1,000 new jobs are set to be created in the taxi industry in the coming years, after it was announced that a new £250 million factory is to be built on the outskirts of Coventry. The investment has been made by Chinese manufacturer Geely, owners of the London Taxi Company (LTC), who are the producers of the iconic London black cab.

London Taxi Company New Factory to Create Jobs

The new plant is aiming to be opened in 2017, and it's predicted to make a big contribution to the demands of London Mayor Boris Johnson who is aiming for all new taxis operating in the capital to be capable of zero emissions by 2018. The factory will include research and development facilities as well as an assembly plant to build the next generation of electric and low-emission vehicles, and is said to be the biggest ever investment of its type by a Chinese company in the UK.

After falling into administration in 2012, LTC was acquired by Geely in 2013 who have already made an £80 million investment into the new TX5 hybrid taxi, but now plan to launch an electric version in 2018. The new factory is hoping to increase LTC production from just under 2,000 cars a year to a a huge 36,000. 


Thursday, 19 March 2015

Uber in the news for all the wrong reasons

Mobile taxi app Uber has made the headlines once again in the past few days, with a number of Californian taxi firms suing the company for false and misleading advertisements regarding the safety of its service.

19 taxi companies have claimed that Uber has wrongly criticised the safety of taxi rides offered by other established firms in the state, by making false and misleading statements with the intention of encouraging users to opt for the service offered by the mobile app. By apparently mistakenly suggesting they will receive a 'safer' ride than their competitors provide, local taxi businesses feel that the app has damaged the reputation of their companies and reduced customer numbers.

Uber Taxi App California Lawsuit

This isn't the first time that Uber has been involved in a supposes breach of Californian law, with the firm being accused in December 2014 of misleading consuemrs over its background checks on drivers. The latest lawsuit comes within less than 24 hours of Uber's offices in Paris being raided by French police, as part of ongoing investigations into its UberPOP peer-to-peer ride-sharing service, which utlises drivers who may not be insured or licensed - which obviously raises safety concerns.

These are just two of the problems that Uber is facing around the world. Germany has recently issued a nationwide ban of the UberPOP service after declaring its business model to be illegal, while in South Korea, Uber are being investigated for breaking local communications and transportation rules.

Monday, 2 March 2015

Transport for London to increase the number of taxi ranks in the capital

London residents, commuters and tourists will find it easier to flag down one of the city's iconic black cabs in the near future, as Transport for London announced that an additional 100 taxi ranks will be installed, bringing the total across London to 600 by the year 2020.

Transport for London to Increase Number of Taxi Ranks

Many of the new ranks will be opened outside of Underground stations, mainline railway stations, hotels and popular night-time hotspots in a bid to crack down on the number of Londoners using unlicensed taxis and making it easier and safer for people to get around the city at night.

TfL is also aiming to improve services for those on the outskirts of the city, by creating more 'island ranks' that allow suburban taxi drivers to pick up passengers from the edge of their licensed area.

Transport for London commissioner, Sir Peter Hendy, said: "We are not complacent and recognise that both the taxi and private hire trades must move with the times and keep pace with technological advances."

The expansion of London's taxi rank network is estimated to cost around £600,000.

Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: "These plans deliver on my commitment to listen to the taxi trade and to help it to continue to offer passengers a first rate service that is the envy of the world. Boosting the number and the type of taxi ranks we have - particularly in the suburbs - is central to this aim and will help to ensure better business for cabbies and an even better service for customers."

Thursday, 12 February 2015

The battle for driverless taxis heats up

Google and Uber could be about to go head-to-head in the race to develop driverless taxis after it was confirmed that both companies are to invest heavily in the technology.

Although the two firms are usually close collaborators - with Google investing hundreds of millions in Uber and the taxi booking app utilising Google Maps technology - they are set to become fierce rivals in a battle to develop reliable autonomous vehicles.

Google has made considerable steps forward in the development of driverless vehicles in the last few years, and although Uber is still a relatively young company, they are equally determined to ensure their long-term future by investing in the technology that many believe will eventually change the face of transport around the world.

This week has seen driverless cars trialled on UK roads for the first time, with demonstrations of the new technology taking place in London, Milton Keynes and Coventry. The Government are currently considering the regulation changes which will need to be made to the Highway Code to allow the vehicles to be used on the road by the public, and by 2030 the technology is expected to advance considerably, allowing cars to effectively 'take over' the roads.

With rumours circulating that Apple may have also began to look into the driverless car industry, the presence of driverless taxi cabs on our streets is beginning to look more like an inevitably rather than a possibility.  

Thursday, 29 January 2015

New electric cabs go on trial - the future of the London taxi?

Last week saw the first electric-powered black cabs hit the streets of London to go on a preliminary trial period in the city. Having been in development for the best part of the last ten years, the seven-seater taxis have a zero-emissions mode and run on two almost-silent electric motors.

The 'Range-Extended Electric Metrocab' has been entirely designed and built in the UK, and comes fitted with colour television displays, a USB charging socket and a panoramic glass roof for London passengers to enjoy during their journey. Drivers will also benefit from modern travel commodities, with a multifunction touch-screen display, hands free phone and air conditioning all fitted as standard.

Electric Metrocab closely resembles its predecessor.

Mayor of London Boris Johnson took one of the Metrocabs for an early test-drive back in April 2014, describing it as the 'Rolls Royce of taxis' and 'a masterpiece of British engineering.' With rising pollution levels across major cities, more and more governments are looking to bring in modes of transport with better energy efficiency. The new Metrocab houses a generator used to recharge the cab's battery or provide power directly to the motors, and as a result, the electric taxi is over three times more fuel efficient than the current London taxi.

How much the Metrocab will cost is yet to be disclosed, but having successfully covered over 600,000 engineering test miles, the new electric taxis may well have a growing presence on London's streets before too long.

Friday, 16 January 2015

London black cabs win bus lane court case

It’s a reasonably difficult time for London’s iconic black cabs at the moment, with taxi app Uber amongst others providing stiff competition for fares. But there was some good news for the black cab this week, as it was ruled that they are free to continue to operate by using the Capital’s bus lanes. Private taxi firms, however, don’t have this privilege.

In a case heard before the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg, private taxi firm Addison Lee claimed that use of bus lanes to bypass traffic and navigate London’s streets gave the black cab an unfair advantage over its competitors.

Black cab parked in London

But the court ruled in favour of the black cab, justifying its decision by claiming they are ‘not comparable’ to their cheaper rivals for a number of reasons. For example, only black cabs can pick up customers without pre-booking.

The ruling said: “Drivers of black cabs are subject to strict standards in relation to their vehicles, their fares and their knowledge of London, whereas those standards do not apply to minicabs.”

London black cab drivers have been up against it in recent months, staging protests against mobile ride-sharing services such as Uber and Hailo. But this ruling from the Court of Justice will go some way to protecting the black cab’s future, although Addison Lee may still choose to appeal the decision in British courts.

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Addison Lee - The Calm In The Chaos?

As the battle of the city taxis heats up, Addison Lee - Europe's largest minicab firm, is using a digital and press campaign to position itself as the business-class taxi service.

The campaign is titled 'Calm In The Chaos'. A variety of designs all feature a couple travelling through the city streets in a bubble.

Under each headline is a perk of Addison Lee travel, such as; 'Our drivers are trained to leave you in peace' and 'Our prices are fixed the moment you book'. 

Just to ensure the message is fully embedded the strapline 'Go Business Class' is used under the Addison Lee branding. 

A modernised website has also been unveiled to coincide with the campaign launch.

What are your thoughts on the campaign?