Black cabs of London get bailout from China
The car’s design has not changed much over the last 65 years, still bearing the same round shape. With seats to fit five passengers, it is more spacious than most passenger cars. The black cab is still the only taxi that can be hailed in the streets of London. Rival cabs must be hired by phone or through their offices.
The word “cab” comes from “cabriolet,” which used to describe a two-wheeled carriage pulled by a horse. London drivers must pass a thorough exam called “the Knowledge,” which includes memorizing streets and landmarks. Each model has to go through 600,000 miles of taxi duty cycle testing before being let onto London’s streets.
The London cabs are still popular, but strict rules for the car and the driver dating to the 1940s, including a specific tight turning circle that allows the cars to make a U-turn even in narrow streets, made the vehicles less competitive. Rival taxi companies started to emerge, won customers with cheaper fares, and raised doubts about whether the Knowledge was still necessary when electronic navigation systems were available.
In 2008, the traditional black cabs also faced competition from the German carmaker Daimler, which teamed with a British company, KPM-UK, to
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