After renting for a good number of years I decided to finally buy my own taxi.
Unfortunately if London taxi drivers want to buy a new taxi there is currently only one choice of vehicle and it’s the longest car name in history ‘The LEVC TX eCity Vista Electric Taxi’.
When the TX Vista was launched in 2018 the company LEVC ( London Electric Vehicle Company) got so many motoring journalist to test drive and review the taxi you would think their target audience to buy the taxi was the general public & not taxi drivers. I’m surprised it did not appear on the motoring show Top Gear as even Fifth Gear done a review on it.
Here are my good & bad points from a taxi drivers point of view & not a motoring journalist who spent just one hour driving the cab.
Good – The Drive
Driving the TX does not feel like a taxi, it resembles driving a mid sized luxury suv as the drive position is higher than your average car.
The drive is pleasantly smooth gliding over the potholes on London’s roads, there is no rattling, clunking or squeaking sounds you would get from a TX2 or TX4. There is no gear changes whilst driving, just a continuous nice flowing motion.
The all round performance from acceleration, handling and comfort is a massive improvement from its predecessor the TX4.
Bad – Price
London Taxis have always been expensive to buy. In the 1980’s till early 90’s a new fairway would cost in the region of £20k, the TX4 in 2017 £46k and now the LEVC in 2019 prices start from £55,599 up to £58,199.
Good – Drivers Seat
The luxury Drivers seat which comes with the Vista Comfort & Comfort Plus is exactly that comfortable.
You can easily do an eight hour shift in this taxi & not have any aches & pains in your legs, back or behind. The seat is electrically adjustable and also heated with three heat settings at your convenience.
Good as a Hybrid/ Bad as a electric car
The TX is really a Hybrid taxi. I’m not sure why LEVC continuously say ‘The electric taxi’. Most hybrid vehicles have a low battery range & uses a combustion engine to drive an electric generator which is exactly what the TX does. Compared to other Hybrid vehicles the TX range is good. If you compare the battery range with an electric car/vehicle the range is terrible.
Below are two lists, Hybrid cars with their battery range & the other for electric cars & their range. The TX has no place in the electric car list as the range is so low.
The Audi Q7 TFSI has a range of 33 miles on a single charge
Volvo XC90 range 27miles
Toyota Prius range 28miles
BMW 330e range 35 miles
Mercedes Benz E Class PHEV range 33 miles
Tx Taxi range 43 miles
Tesla Model S 514 miles on a single charge,
The Nissan Leaf range 258 miles
Jaguar I-Pace range 290 miles
I’ve currently done a maximum of 43miles on electric during the winter on a full charge. I’ve never got near 70 miles as stated by LEVC & I don’t think I ever will even during Summertime. Its especially not good when you leave the charging station at 97% charged, the mileage reads 66 miles, you drive for 2 minutes & then it drops to 54miles? Where did those 12 miles go?
Good – Sensus 9″ touch screen
The Sensus 9 inch touch screen display, steering wheel & engine start all comes from the Volvo XC90 as Geely bought Volvo cars in 2010 for $1.8billion. There are also more options available on the XC90’s touchscreen than the TX which is disappointing. The touch screen is the main hub for the driver to control the vehicle.
Bad – Heavy passenger door
When I pull up after being hailed many passengers just stand outside waiting for the door to automatically open like the Vito. It would be good if the doors were electric because the rear doors are too heavy for many passengers. I’ve never seen a passenger use both hands to close a taxi door until now. All passengers young, old, male or female have mentioned the weight of the door when they close it upon entering the taxi.
When exiting the taxi passengers need to push the door shut with a fair amount of force, if they don’t the door does not shut securely & a warning light is displayed on the drivers dashboard ‘Door ajar stop safely’. It can be annoying when the door does not close properly & the passenger just walks away which happens too often with this taxi.
Good – LCD Digital Dashboard
The Drivers digital dashboard is slick & well designed with all the information the driver requires.
Bad – Braking & surging forward
Myself and other TX drivers noticed that on occasions when braking the taxi would feel a slight ‘surging forward’ especially when it is raining. LEVC response is below.
This happens too frequently in the TX, I’ve driven cars with ABS brakes & it rarely occurs whilst driving. If this increases during driving I’ll notify LEVC again.
Good – No engine noise
I can now have a good conversation with passengers instead of shouting or asking them to repeat what they said three times as there is no noise. I also now have the radio on low volume whilst working. Passengers now have to whisper to each other if they don’t want me to hear what their saying. You do however need to be more aware of passengers stepping into the road as they don’t hear you approaching.
Bad – Still no Safety Box as promised
With the Vista Comfort & Comfort Plus a lockable drawer should be installed underneath the drivers seat. There is just a large gap underneath my seat with no lockable drawer. I complained to LEVC concerning this and they replied saying the drawers are still testing for the right material. So none of the 1000 plus TX’s has a lockable drawer underneath the seat.
Good – Cruise Control
With the expansion of average speed check cameras located on the A40, M4 and all around London the Cruise Control option is a handy additional feature available.
Bad – GPS constantly on
Drivers can not access the location settings (GPS) on the taxi so its continuously on. The taxi offers road sign assistance which informs the driver of the roads speed limit your travelling on. If you turn the road sign assistance function off the GPS within the taxi is still active. I presume LEVC are collecting data of drivers as there would be an option within the menu settings to turn it off.
So whenever you are driving the taxi big brother is always watching and I have no idea what the data is being used for.
(Only the Vista Comport Plus has satellite navigation)
Good – Spacious for passengers
The TX can comfortably fit six adult passengers. Gone are the days when the flip down seats would slam upright when the passenger got up from the seat, now they flip back upright slowly, gone are the days when passengers would use the flip down seats as their foot rest as now they can’t reach them unless they’re over 6ft tall. Just like the long anticipated Nissan taxi there is a panoramic roof for the passengers.
The usb ports for passengers is also a good idea.
Bad – Reverse Camera additional cost.
LEVC charge an extra £400 to install a reverse camera which should be standard on all models because visibility when reversing is not good as the back is so high. Rear parking sensors are available as standard on all models. I would definitely recommend adding the camera if you decide to buy one.
Good – Regenerative braking
There are two setting for Regenerative braking on the TX. It’s recommended to always have it on the highest setting. Regenerative braking is an energy recovery mechanism which slows the taxi without the driver applying the brakes & converting its kinetic energy to the battery. This means less use of the brake pads resulting in them lasting longer.
Bad – Drivers storage space
Not enough places for drivers to store their items in the drivers compartment. The compartment underneath the arm rest is not deep enough.
Good – Auto wipers
If you find it too much of a hassle to flick the wiper switch when it rains the Tx is for you because it has automatic wipers. Just press a button & the wipers will start when it detects rain on the windscreen and also change speed depending on how heavy its raining, No need to keep switching the knob up & down, just leave it & technology does it for you.
In conclusion the TX is a vast improvement from the TX4 taxi in every way (apart from storage space). It’s in a completely different league. Geely have done an amazing job with their first London taxi. Passengers constantly compliment the smooth drive & quietness of the vehicle and I’m saving money by not using petrol as often. It can be improved in a few areas which I mentioned above but overall it’s a good London cab.
The best response I received from a passenger when I told him how many miles I get from the battery was
“At least it looks good.”