London's infamous black cabs are set to become “green” over the next decade, as part of a new scheme launched by the city's Mayor, Boris Johnson.
The mopped-topped Etonian outlined in his Air Quality Strategy document that black cabs built from 2015 onwards will be expected to consume 60 per cent less fuel than current counterparts. Taxis over 15 years old will not have their licences renewed from 2012 onwards.
The aim of the plan is to scale back pollution from taxis until they produce no fuel-pipe emissions at all by 2020.
If you can hear us coughing, it's either disbelief - or the fumes from the road outside.
“There are a variety of promising propulsion and power technologies which could see hybrid, plug-in electric, full-electric and fuel cell taxis on London’s roads in the future,” Johnson's report claims.
In another new measure to be introduced in 2011, new taxi drivers will be expected to undergo 'eco-driving' training before they receive their licences, allowing them to manage their fuel more efficiently, or maybe teaching them to fit a sail to the vehicle should the battery run out of juice...
The report also refers to 'no-idling zones', where vehicles will be required to turn off their engines while standing. It's unclear whether this would be a good thing for taxi ranks, where cabs might actually produce more fumes if they were to constantly stop and start. One of the solutions suggested could be that people hailing for a taxi may have to (gasp!) walk to their cab of choice.
The study comes in response to reports labelling London's air quality as among the worst in Europe. Earlier this year, the Mayor was threatened with a £300 million fine by the European Commission if the city failed to get its house in order.
Johnson says he wants the UK capital to be the “electric vehicle capital of Europe”. The way things are going, it might be worth dusting off that old Sinclair C5 in the garage.