Eco City Vehicles launches electric London taxi

LONDON Mon Feb 8, 2010 8:52am EST

Taxis queue in rush hour traffic in London August 23, 2006. REUTERS/Luke MacGregor

Taxis queue in rush hour traffic in London August 23, 2006.

Credit: Reuters/Luke MacGregor

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain's Eco City Vehicles has launched an electric prototype of the Mercedes Vito taxi, which will it trial later this year to test its suitability for use as part of London's iconic black taxi fleet.

"The eVito is the first all-electric wheelchair accessible taxi with a 25-foot turning circle to be launched in the world and a major step toward our goal to become a leading supplier of niche eco-friendly vehicles," said CEO Peter DaCosta.

The firm, which sells and services cabs, said on Monday it developed the Mercedes eVito alongside its manufacturing partners Penso, Mercedes Benz UK and Zytec Automotive.

Since its launch in 2008, the Mercedes Vito has proved to be a serious competitor to Manganese Bronze, the maker of London's traditional black taxis.

Eco City said last year the Vito now has a 30 percent share of new black cab taxi sales in London.

The company added the eVito would comply with clean air standards for the city's taxis which have been proposed by the Mayor of London and are due to be introduced in time for the London Olympics in 2012.

"Subject to successful trials, the eVito together with the already popular Vito taxi, provides London with a great opportunity to reduce air pollution with modern vehicles," DaCosta added.

Shares in Eco City, which are up 85 percent in the last six months, rose 2 percent by 0820 GMT valuing the company at 19.3 million pounds ($30.1 million).

(Reporting by Sarah Young; Editing by Victoria Bryan)

($1=.6418 Pound)

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