The Green Autos

Its Testing Time for the eVito Taxi

In February of this year, the electric version prototype of the Vito Taxi that is produced by Mercedes-Benz was unveiled, and now it is time to begin a wide variety of exciting tests on the real road. Although the beginnings for the eTaxi all began with the donor vehicle that was provided from the well known Mercedes-Benz automobile manufacturer, there are several different British technology companies that are responsible for the slick design of the plug-in taxi, and would include Mercedes-Benz UK, Zytek, Penso, and Valence Technology. In part, the electric Taxi is also being funded by the UK Government’s Advantage Niche Vehicle Research and Development Programme. The design of the quickly built eTaxi has successfully met all of the requirement demands that have been placed on it by the London Carriage Office. The shocking part about the electric taxi is that it only took about six months time not only to design the vehicle, but also to put the van all together. The end result is an electric powered taxi that can travel as far as 75 miles (120 kilometers) with a charge time of 6 hours. The eTaxi also has enough space inside the vehicle to comfortably be able to seat 6 people. The extra space that is provided is due to the conversion that has been made to a front-wheel-drive system. Along with the Vauxhall Ampera, it is expected that by the time the London Olympics is started in 2012 that the electric taxi may very well be in service.

The electric drivetrain that is featured on the eTaxi puts out as much as 70kW and includes a li-Ion battery pack of 35kWh, that is produced by Valence and has been installed just below the vehicle’s floor. The excellent ride quality of the vehicle that is noticed, along with the stability you receive provides a better driving experience from this placement because of mounting it at a low point, which ultimately lowers the center of gravity. The large amount of power that is obtained from this battery pack is enough to charge a smaller automobile for as many as 100 or more miles. It will be very interesting to see if the range of the eTaxi can actually keep rolling along providing service to patrons for up to 120 miles. Featured on the van and built by Graziano, you will also find a Vocis gearbox that has been custom designed.

There have been very few revisions made to the mounting points of the existing engine, which only requires the addition of three extra connections. These three connections are for low voltage electrics, the water, and the high voltage electrics of the vehicle. This is an interface that combines with all of the existing systems that are featured on the vehicle that would include onboard diagnostics (OBD), Antilock Braking System (ABS), and Electronic Stability Programme (ESP). As all of the cab drivers all throughout London expect, the outstanding performance that is delivered by the eTaxi when driving at speeds of the city, has been said to provide a liveliness and comfortable ride.

As stated by Steve Tremble, Zytek Automotive sales and marketing director, “We could easily have electric taxis in service in-time for the 2012 London Olympics.” He has also commented that the eTaxi’s are already being produced, they have thoroughly been proven in the vans that are currently being produced, and they are market ready as per the technologies that are featured.

Zytek is a company that has a long line of experience in designing and integrating electric drive systems for a wide variety of vehicle manufacturers in the United States, as well auto manufacturers of the European market. They are also well known for being one of the first facilities to design and produce a hybrid for diesel readiness.

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