New black cabs manufactured in Leicestershire, England, have hit the streets of London. The cabs are the first of their kind, operating entirely on hydrogen power. Intelligent Energy, a world class producer of hydrogen fuel cells, is responsible for converting the traditional London cabs into clean running vehicles. The company’s hydrogen fuel cells replaced the cab’s conventional diesel engines as part of an initiative to make the city more environmentally friendly in preparation of the London Olympics. Intelligent Energy hopes to begin mass producing their fuel cells for the cabs by 2016.
The hydrogen powered cabs were recently approved for the road with support from London’s Mayor Boris Johnson. “These prototype zero-emission taxis are a shining example of British ingenuity,” Johnson said in a statement released today. This marks a major milestone in the country’s goal to incorporate alternative energies.
Currently, only two taxis are being used to demonstrate the performance of hydrogen fuel and are shepherding political leaders from destination to destination. Intelligent Energy hopes to have a fully operational fleet in place by the end of this year.
Hydrogen power has been the target of some skepticism. Many believe that hydrogen is no more efficient than traditional fossil-fuel and argue that the simple fact that it produces no harmful emissions is not a justifiable reason to support fuel cell technology.
Dr. Henri Winard, CEO of Intelligent Energy, notes that on the vehicle’s first tour of London streets, they performed much better than vehicles running on gasoline. They were able to travel more than 250 miles before having to be refueled and the refueling process took a little more than three minutes.