With London 2012 in full effect and all eyes on UK's capital, Nissan has chosen a shrewd Monday morning to announce that its NV200 is to be certified as a London black cab. Nissan claims that the taxi variant of its light commercial vehicle is 50 percent more fuel efficient than other black cabs, allowing the automaker to position the NV200 as the next generation London taxi, just as it has for New York and Tokyo where NV200 taxis are also set to appear. The fully electric model, the e-NV200, is set for London testing next year, and could see service as early as 2014.

Executive Vice President Andy Palmer took to the podium to extoll the virtues of its machine, claiming that in addition to the efficiency gains, which Nissan claims could save individual drivers £663 (US$1032) per year, the upfront cost of the diesel-powered NV200 will also be lower than the competition—crucial if it is to sway the notoriously staid London cabbies who have to fork out for their own vehicles.

Nissan has had to convince both the Mayor's office and Transport for London (TfL) to gain approval for the NV200. The company has positioned its vehicle as a crucial measure in improving London's air quality. It's a characteristic certain to have caught the attention of London Mayor, Boris Johnson: London is already on borrowed time in respect of European air quality legislation.

"If all of London's licensed taxis were replaced with the NV200 London Taxi, there would be a CO2 reduction across London of 37,970 metric tonnes [41,855 tons] each year," Nissan claims. Apparently, the same substitution would reduce NOx gas and PM particulate pollution by 135 metric tonnes (149 tons) and 20 metric tonnes (22 tons) per year respectively. Clearly a fully-electric model would help combat localized air pollution even further, even if, until such a time as clean energy is universal, the air pollution is merely transposed to the power station.

The NV200 ticks all of TfL's boxes for a black cab (or more correctly, Hackney carriage). Specifically, the taxified NV200 is able to accommodate a wheelchair passenger, and achieves the legal requirement for a maximum turning circle of 25 ft (7.6 m).

A nice feature of the London model is a 1.2 sq m (12.9 sq ft) glass roof: a nod to the fact that many of the most striking views in an inner city are directly upwards.

The full spec list (which could change prior to launch) for the London model of the NV200 taxi is as follows:

  • Vehicle Height: 1.86 m (6 ft 1 in)
  • Vehicle Length: 4.4 m (14 ft 5 in)
  • Vehicle Width without mirrors: 1.89 m (6 ft 2 in)
  • Vehicle Width with mirrors: 2.1 m (6 ft 11 in)
  • Turning circle: 7.6 m (24 ft 11 in)
  • Engine Displacement: 1.5 l (0.33 gal)
  • No of of cylinders: 4
  • 14MY Estimated Combined Fuel Economy: 53 mpg (22.5 km/l)
  • Engine Power: 89 hp (66 kW)
  • Torque (@ 1750 rpm): 240 Nm (2 832 ounce feet) @ 1750rpm
  • CO2: 139 g/km (7.89 ounces per mile)
  • NOx: 0.22 g/km (0.012 ounces per mile)
  • Particles: 0.016 g/km (0.00091 ounces per mile)
  • Driven axle: Front