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Nissan unveils the NV200, London’s new black taxi

AFP-JIJI, Kyodo

Nissan Motor Co. unveiled Monday its version of London’s iconic black taxi, a market currently dominated by Chinese firm Geely.

Nissan claims its new 1.6-liter gasoline engine is cleaner than the current diesel cabs cruising the streets of the British capital.

“The NV200 cab for London is part of Nissan’s global taxi program, which also encompasses New York, Barcelona and Tokyo. The London version’s design is bespoke, reflecting the rich heritage and status of London’s black cabs,” the company said.

Unveiled in August 2012, the cab was redesigned after feedback from Mayor Boris Johnson’s office called for a closer resemblance to the black cab “face,” with bigger headlights, a prominent taxi sign and a big grille.

The new cab adheres to the strict regulations governing the capital’s black cabs — known officially as Hackney Carriages — including the required 25-foot (7.6-meter) turning circle.

The cab will be produced at Nissan’s plant in Barcelona, Spain, and modifications will be added in Britain, home to the firm’s huge Sunderland plant.

It will go on sale in London in December priced about £30,000 (¥5 million).

The company enters the market as the original maker of London’s famous black cabs finds a new life.

While the fuel-efficient minivan is already in use as a taxi in Tokyo and New York, the appearance of the London model has been modified to blend in with existing British cabs, Nissan said.

Nissan was initially planning to sell the model this spring but postponed it to the end of the year due to the design alterations, it said. The automaker is scheduled to launch an electric version of the vehicle in 2015.

Chinese auto manufacturer Zhejiang Geely Holding Group last year rescued from bankruptcy what is now known as London Taxi Co.