The London Mercedes Vito Taxi article to follow on page 10 was first published in the 2008/09 Winter issue of Mercedes advantage magazine and is being reprinted here with the permission of Mercedes Benz and KPMUK, the taxi subsidiary of EcoCity Vehicles PLC (ECV), co-manufacturer of the Mercedes Taxi. The following introduction was prepared by the TLC Magazine staff and not Mercedes advantage magazine. The London Mercedes Vito Taxi article will follow this introduction.

EcoCity Vehicles

EcoCity Vehicles PLC (ECV) is an established specialist vehicle distributor and a leading after sales service centre for the London Taxi owner-driver market. Eco City Vehicles is in the process of expanding its product lines by distributing environmentally friendly vehicles through its existing channels to market targeting local authorities, urban vehicle fleet owners, management companies and other business users.

The Mercedes Vito Taxi

The new Mercedes Vito Taxi was introduced to the UK taxi/car service industry and public by EcoCity Vehicles PLC (ECV) at a press conference hosted at the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders in London in June 2008. EcoCity Vehicles entered into an exclusive agreement with Mercedes Benz to co-manufacture the New Mercedes Taxi. EcoCity Vehicles markets the new Mercedes vehicle through its KPMUK Taxi subsidiary. As reported by EcoCity Vehicles at that time, It was anticipated that the Mercedes Benz Taxi would challenge the dominance of the LTI Taxi Vehicles of Coventry.

The LTI (London Taxi International) purpose built TX vehicles are the predominant taxi vehicle utilized in London, throughout the UK and many parts of the world. Like many vehicle manufacturers, LTI has also begun to manufacture its vehicles in China with the introduction of the TX4 taxi model. This new manufacturing plant is designed to support LTI's international purpose built taxi demand.

KPM-UK has been a franchised main dealer for LTI since 1989 until July of this year. The Mercedes Taxi Dealership is managed in
separate premises adjacent to the London Taxi International
(LTI) Dealership.

The Mercedes Benz Vito Taxi is based on the Mercedes Vito Traveliner. Its rear wheel steering system was designed and manufactured in Britain by EcoCity's subsidiary One80 Limited. The vehicle's wheel steering system is designed to comply with London's statutory 25 foot turning circle, an essential engineering requirement of the Conditions of Fitness taxi regulations which is operated by London’s Public Carriage Office.

The new Mercedes Benz Vito Taxi is a 2.2-litre CDI turbo diesel, lower emission vehicle that can accommodate six, three facing forwards and three on fold down, rear facing seats. Access could not be simpler with wide, electrically powered sliding doors on both sides that can be opened at the touch of a button. Both doors are fitted with driver operated electric steps. Life is also a great deal easier for drivers carrying wheelchair users. They access the vehicle via a lightweight ramp which is carried in the luggage compartment.

The Mercedes All Electric eVito Taxi

EcoCity Vehicles PLC recently announced the launch of an all electric prototype of the London licensed Mercedes Vito Taxi (Vito) which was co-developed and is distributed exclusively by the Group. Called the Mercedes Electric eVito Taxi (eVito), the zero emissions, lithium-ion battery vehicle was developed by a consortium of high technology engineering companies including ECV's manufacturing partner Penso, Mercedes Benz UK and Zytec Automotive. One80 Ltd, an associate company of the Group, provides its patented rear wheel steering technology for the eVito as well as the Vito taxi enabling the vehicle to meet the Public Carriage Office requirement for a minimum turning circle of 25 feet. Later this year, the consortium plans to conduct controlled trials to confirm eVito's suitability for road usage as a London licensed taxi.

The electric taxi is powered by Zytek's 70kW electric powertrain and expected to exceed a total range of 120 miles in a typical mixed drive cycle on a single charge. The vehicle's performance is predicted to be similar to the internal combustion engine taxi making it an ideal choice for inner city transportation and London cabbies. With zero emissions, it is also expected to be fully compliant with the Mayor of London's proposed new clean air standards for London taxis due to be introduced in time for the London Olympics.The Group believes that the advanced technologies used in the eVito also offers considerable potential for developing other types of eco-friendly commercial vehicles targeted at urban areas.

Peter D’Acosta, Chief Executive Officer of Eco City Vehicles, commented: "The eVito is the first all electric wheelchair accessible taxi with a 25 foot turning circle to be launched in the world and a major step towards our goal to become a leading supplier of niche eco-friendly vehicles. Subject to successful trials, the eVito together with the already popular Vito taxi, provides London with a great opportunity to reduce air pollution with modern vehicles. We have taken on board Mayor Boris Johnson's wish for a cleaner London and I'm confident this will contribute to meeting his goal." For additional comment please contact Peter D’Acosta in London at 44 207 375 1179 or

The Mercedes Vito Taxi has been designed to support the expanding demands placed on London's 25,000 licensed taxi drivers. The Mercedes Taxi Vehicle will continue to function as have London taxis before it, to be hired on city and village streets as well as from one of over 500 designated London taxi stands and stations. In keeping with current taxi/car service industry requirements in many venues internationally,
all Mercedes Vito Taxis will be 100 per cent wheelchair accessible.

The Mercedes-Benz Vito Taxis specification has been engineered for global distribution and looks to meet or surpass New York City’s environmental and structural taxi vehicle requirements.

Photos by Tim Andrew

Up town top ranking

“You’ll never guess who I had in the back of my Mercedes the other day…”

Steve Warren hails a ground-breaking new taxi that’s set to transform the streets of London.

John Williams smiles ruefully: “I picked up a young guy the other day and took him from The Dorchester to Harrods,” he recalls. “He looked vaguely familiar but it was only after I’d dropped him, when a woman got into the cab and asked me what he was like, that I found out he was Colin Farrell.”

The fact that John had failed to recognise the Irish-born heart-throb and star of Hollywood movies like Alexander, Miami Vice and Phone Booth meant he was not the most popular of taxi drivers when he returned home that night. “My daughters were distinctly unimpressed that I’d failed to get his autograph for them,” explains John.

Farrell’s moniker would have been a prized addition to a collection that already includes the likes of Sean Connery, George Michael, Kylie Minogue and Robbie Williams, all of whom have criss-crossed central London in the back of John’s cab.

These days, though, another star is taking centre stage in his life – it’s one with three points and it shines proudly from the front of his Mercedes Vito Taxi. Launched recently in partnership with Bethnal Green-based KPM-UK, London’s foremost taxi dealer, the new vehicle is based on the popular Vito Traveliner minibus and adapted for use as a cab in the Coventry factory of engineering specialist One80.

Miles more smiles... John Williams has not looked back since switching to his Vito Taxi

Mercedes Vitos are already in service as taxis in cities across Europe but the adaptations carried out to the new model tailor it specifically for work on London’s streets, where the vehicle specification criteria is laid down by the Public Carriage Office.

An alternative to the traditional ‘black cab’, the Vito Taxi is already being hailed a triumph by some of the first cabbies to make the switch. For decades the ubiquitous LTI has been their only option, as nothing else met the city’s strict regulations. These stipulate, among other things, a turning circle of no more than 25ft, from kerb to kerb. The Mercedes has ticked that box thanks to the addition of an innovative steering rear axle, which makes the already-nimble vehicle even more manoeuvrable.

“I’m out on the road for 10 hours at a time but the Vito is so spacious and the driving position so comfortable that when I get home at the end of a shift I’m much more relaxed than I’ve ever been.”

The introduction of the Vito Taxi means that London’s cabbies finally have a genuine choice as to which vehicle they drive.

John, who passed the famous ‘Knowledge’ exam to earn his taxi licence 21 years ago, fell for the new model when he attended a launch event in Battersea Park.

“Had it been another manufacturer I wouldn’t have gone but because it was a Mercedes-Benz I decided to take a look,” he recalls. “I’m glad I did because the moment I set eyes on the Vito Taxi I knew I had to have one.”

He took delivery of his vehicle in August and for three weeks it was the only one on the road. But so enthusiastically have London’s cabbies embraced the Vito since, that by November there were more than 100 in service, a figure that is set to reach 150 by the end of the year.

“The response has been phenomenal, so much so that One80 just can’t build them quickly enough,” declares Steve McCarthy, Sales Director at KPM UK. In fact, Vito Taxis are emerging at a rate of 48 a month but as more and more hit the road, so demand continues to rise.

“I think a lot of drivers held back initially,” explains Steve, “because they wanted to see the vehicle out there working and get some ‘warts and all’ feedback from other cabbies who’d already bought one. What they’re discovering, though, is that there are no warts – the Vito Taxi is a fantastic cab, and it has that three-pointed star on the front too, so we’re starting to see a snowball effect.”

With some 22,000 licensed taxis currently operating in London, the opportunity for Mercedes-Benz and KPM UK is huge. So what is it about the Vito Taxi that makes it so well suited to the role?

“It’s a lot more comfortable for a start,” confirms John, “and that goes for the driver as well as the passengers.”

The Vito Taxi comes with a fully-adjustable, leather-trimmed Comfort seat as standard (John’s vehicle has full leather upholstery on all seats, an option that is proving very popular). Offering unprecedented width and leg room, this combines with a steering wheel that is adjustable for both height and reach to provide the perfect driving position for cabbies of all shapes and sizes.

“Show me a London taxi driver and I’ll show you someone with a back, neck, shoulder or leg problem, and sometimes a combination of all of four,” says John. “I’m out on the road for 10 hours at a time but the Vito is so spacious and the driving position so comfortable that when I get home at the end of a shift I’m much more relaxed than I’ve ever been before.”

Spreading the word…an enthusiastic advocate, John is happy to spend time extolling the virtues of his Vito to fellow cabbies

The cockpit is separated from the passenger compartment – there are separate heating and air-conditioning controls for both – by an attack-resistant panel. And whereas traditional London cabs seat five passengers, the Vito Taxi can accommodate six, three facing forwards and three on fold-down, rear-facing seats. Yet they, too, have a lot more room in which to stretch out, and there is also more space for their luggage.

Access could not be simpler, with wide, electrically-powered sliding doors on both sides that can be opened at the touch of a button. Both doors are fitted with driver-operated electric steps, while life is also a great deal easier for drivers when carrying wheelchair users, who access the vehicle via a lightweight ramp which is carried in the boot.

Power comes from the well-proven, 2.2-litre Mercedes-Benz common-rail diesel engine, which is renowned for its refinement, reliability and fuel efficiency, and meets all of the latest emissions standards. Mated to a fully automatic five-speed gearbox with Tiptronic mode, it is a stress-busting package in more ways than one.





Access all areas…the Vito Taxi will
turn on a sixpence


“It’s beautifully smooth to drive and very quiet too,” explains John. “But what I’m really chuffed about is the fact that my Vito is returning between 28 and 29mpg around town – that’s a good 10mpg more than I was getting before, and other guys who’ve bought Vitos are reporting similar improvements.

“What’s more,” he continues, “the Mercedes’ service intervals are much longer too, so I’m saving money there as well.”

And then, of course, there’s that ‘trick’ back axle, which has been developed to meet the famous 25ft turning circle rule insisted upon so that taxis can execute a U-turn in London’s congested streets. Simply activated at the touch of a button, it works in tandem with a Low Speed Manoeuvrability system to provide the Vito with all of the agility it needs to weave a path through the city traffic. “It’s quite incredible to watch in operation and gives me a turning circle that’s even tighter than my old taxi’s,” enthuses John.

Very attractively priced on a like-for-like basis, in comparison to the competition, the Vito Taxi now looks set to transform the London taxi scene. “You’ll always get the traditionalist who wants to stick with the old-style black cab,” says John Williams. “But looked at objectively it really is a ‘no-brainer’ – the Vito is that much better.”

Pulling rank…Vito Taxis appear destined to become a common sight on London’s streets

“What I’m really chuffed about is the
fact that my Vito is returning between 28 and 29 mpg around town – that’s a good 10 mpg more than I was getting before”


The word on the street

“The Vito is the best taxi I’ve driven by a mile. I’m 6ft 2in and used to get out of my old cab after a 10- or 12-hour shift feeling crippled. Now I’m fresh and relaxed because I’ve so much more room to move.

The customers certainly love having all that space, while it’s also much easier to get wheelchair users in and out of the vehicle; that used to be a bit of a palaver in the old cab, because you had to move the seats. I’m always stopping so that other cabbies can give my Mercedes the ‘once over’ and they’re invariably impressed. In fact, I really enjoy going to work these days, not least because I’m saving between £8 and £10 a day on my fuel costs.”

Colin Salmon, 12 years a cabbie

“I’ve had my Vito for two weeks now and it’s still surprising me every day – I find I can get in and out of spaces I would never have made before.

The only trouble is… I’ve gone off my car now. I used to enjoy getting out of my taxi and into the car (a premium brand, German saloon), because it felt so much more refined. Now, though, it’s the other way around – the car sounds a bit noisy and the acceleration doesn’t feel as responsive, while the brakes don’t seem as good either. I don’t really need the car anymore; I can just use the cab for my private driving as well as for work and be a lot happier.”

Geoff Stone, 37 years a cabbie


There’s a new ‘face’ on the rank.

The New Vito Taxi.

The new Vito Taxi sets new standards for the London cab, with a luxuriously appointed driver’s compartment, six passenger seats, separate air conditioning systems for driver and passengers, full PCO approval and the prestige that comes from driving a Mercedes-Benz. Get the knowledge you need at or call 020 7375 1179.

© 2013 TLC Magazine Online, Inc.