A single ‘London Taxi’ took to the streets of Melbourne this week, following the launch of a wider trial in Perth late last year.
The quirky TX4 cab, its design inspired by the iconic taxis of the British capital, is in Melbourne as an early evaluation vehicle ahead of a 100-car trial.
The Perth trial is understood to have been met with some criticism from drivers, with local news programs reporting complaints about the quirky cab’s brakes.
The affected cars have since been recalled, and the London Taxi Company - which is owned by Chinese company and Volvo parent Geely - says it has delivered a 30 percent improvement in braking performance.
The company says it has also improved the engine-cooling and air-conditioning systems to combat the hotter Perth climates.
Speaking with Melbourne radio station 3AW this week, London Taxi Company boss Evan Simeon said the Melbourne expansion “is very exciting”.
"We'd like to trial at least 100 here in Victoria as a sample patch and then work from that,” Simeon told 3AW.
Fairfax reports that the Victorian Taxi Association has confirmed it will welcome any additional taxi options that improve accessibility for users.
“The Victorian Taxi Association is interested to learn the results of the current trial of London-style cabs in Melbourne and keen to understand the response to the vehicles both from the public and the industry,” a spokesperson told Melbourne’s Age newspaper.
In his radio interview, Mr Simeon said that the Perth trial has covered more than 3.5 million kilometres since its October launch, ferrying over 60,000 passengers.
The trial’s progress appears to have impressed the Western Australian state government, which in January gave approval for a further 50 of the London Taxi Company cars to operate on Perth streets.
Mr Simeon said that the company employs “a high level of scrutiny” in the fit-out of its vehicles and the recruiting of its drivers.
"Our drivers must have driven [taxis] for at least 12 months, have not have had more than three significant breaches,” he told Perth’s WA Today.
"Our drivers are higher quality; we're getting the cream of the crop.”
He added that the cab’s five-passenger capacity has also impacted on the limousine industry.
"It's a novelty and it has the extra space for a fifth person,” he told WA Today.
"We have people, such as lawyers, attending functions and they are calling us when they would normally call a limousine."