London has a new kind of taxi in town. Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles operated by a company called Green Tomato Cars, started to pick up passengers soon after COP21 (the Paris agreement) was signed by world leaders, officially recognizing the “urgent and potentially irreversible threat” to our world, posed by climate change.
The cars being used are Toyota Mirai Saloons. When hydrogen fuel cell vehicles like the Mirai are driven, only warm water vapor is produced. This vapor condenses as it meets cooler air, meaning that water is the only emission.
Compared to other hybrids and electrics, the Mirai is a good choice of vehicle to use for a cab. The range of the vehicles used is about 300 miles when fully powered. The refill time is five minutes or less. Reaching top speeds over 100mph is achievable for the car, which is helped by its acceleration rate of 0 to 62mph in under 10 seconds.
Unfortunately for these cabs, London does not have many refuelling points. There are only two – one in Hatton Cross (near Heathrow) and one in Hendon. There is a bit more noise produced than a traditional electric vehicle as well. The cost, £66,000, is also a bit steep, but the company recognizes that they are cheap to operate due to fewer moving parts and a lessened need for maintenance.
The hydrogen fuel cell vehicles are not the only green cars Green Tomato utilizes. They have a fleet of 600 cars in London, but most of them are Toyota Prius models.
In a town like London, where air pollution from nitrogen dioxide and airborne particulates has been found to lead to nearly 10,000 premature deaths a year in the city – possibly that the pollution can exacerbate conditions – the more emission reduction that is done, the better.