Vehicle testing. The testbed has received £31
million of investment by government and the
“The current global health crisis has
highlighted the urgent need to accelerate R&D in
future mobility on a national and international
scale,” said David Fisken, head of business
attraction at the West Midlands Growth Company
– the region’s investment agency. “Our status
as the UK’s fi rst Future Mobility Zone, coupled
with our reputation for transport innovation and
collaborative industry-academic partnerships,
puts us in a unique position to lead the UK’s
ambitions for the sector.”
It covers the most diverse range of roads,
junctions and traffi c measures in the world, and
will also include the University of Warwick campus
– a mini city in itself (map pictured above). MFM
is also 5G ready and has smart monitoring systems
that vehicles will be connected to via high-speed,
high-capacity wireless infrastructure across the
whole route, ensuring no loss of signal.
5G is also playing a role in other projects
in the region, including a multi-million pound
innovation project to support the development of
new products and services to transform the West
Midlands’ transportation sector. Seven schemes
have received a combined £2.4 million of funding
from West Midlands 5G Limited (WM5G).
The projects are scheduled to run until the end
of 2021, with many set to complete ahead of that
deadline, and each project will include trialling
and testing of their innovative service in the West
Among the projects to benefi t from the funding
are Capacity Manager, a traffi c management
solution run by a consortium including the
University of Warwick and O2 that uses real-time
traffi c data and artifi cial intelligence to better
manage congestion, and Predikt, a parking system
that uses 5G-enabled kerbside monitors to tell
drivers where the nearest available parking spaces
are – reducing the estimated £373 million spent
each year in wasted time, fuel and emissions
caused by drivers searching for a place to park.
The West Midlands has long been one of
the manufacturing powerhouses of the UK, and
these recent developments in the world of future
mobility will see it remain at the centre of the
industry for many years to come.
FUTURE TRANSPORTATION NOVEMBER /DECEMBER 2020
of the region’s
output is from
– totalling £22.1
of this output is in
All stats courtesy of
is one of the
plants in the UK
Inside one of the West Midlands’
A £300 million, state-of-the-art plant in Ansty, near Coventry, has
been home to LEVC, manufacturers of TX, the electric London
Taxi, since 2017. As the UK’s fi rst factory dedicated solely to
electric vehicle production, the site is at the cutting edge of the
region’s future mobility plans. MM spoke to the company, about
the West Midlands’ automotive traditions and future plans for the
business, including the VN5 electric van.
How has the pandemic a ected your operations?
While we have seen a natural lack of demand due to the
pandemic, we remain positive for the months ahead. Our
business growth strategy is based on two key elements – new
products and new markets. We started production of VN5 in Q4
2020 with UK deliveries before the end of the year. European
customers will receive delivery of VN5 from Spring 2021.
LEVC is experiencing rapid growth in Europe. TX has been
very successful in key markets like Germany, France, Switzerland,
Norway and Denmark as part of a growing e-mobility and
ridesharing market. Europe will be a key market for VN5, with the
growth of e-commerce and the implementation of stricter clean
air policy and regulation in cities.
Companies including DPD, Royal Mail, Speedy, Kier, Octopus
Energy and BT are trialling prototype versions of the vehicle
(Royal Mail’s prototype pictured below). We expect the VN5 to
account for over 70% of production volume and will play a crucial
role in helping LEVC achieve its 60% export goal by 2022.
How important is it for a British
icon like the London taxi to be
manufactured in the UK?
LEVC is proud that the British icon
is designed, engineered and built in
Britain. The new TX electric taxi is now very
much a global icon, with countries across the world using the
vehicle for taxi, ridesharing and e-mobility services.
Are EVs becoming the norm for commercial vehicles,
especially in cities?
With the explosion in e-commerce, some 600,000 light vans
are sold annually in Europe, a market that is set to double soon.
Nearly all of these are diesel-powered. We believe this market is
open for transformation to electric vehicles – with VN5 being the
right solution for right now.
With 4,500 TXs now on the roads, eCity technology
has travelled (based on one year of operation) the
equivalent to 113 million miles or 4,518 times around
the earth. The total amount of fuel saved by the TXs
is 21 million litres, with CO2 emissions reduced by
36,000 tonnes and harmful NOx emissions cut by 99.5%
compared to conventional diesel taxis. Drivers benefi t
directly too, saving around £110 a week in fuel.