An all-electric taxi developed in the West Midlands finished among the winners in the UK’s first Future Car Challenge, which saw more than 60 low emissions vehicles travel around 60 miles non-stop from Brighton to London.

The ‘E Vito taxi’ – a prototype developed by a consortium including automotive engineering specialists Zytek and technology experts Penso – took the Most Economic & Environmentally Friendly Multi-Purpose Electric Vehicle honour in the inaugural event.

Neil Heslington, managing director of Zytek and driver of the E Vito in the Future Car Challenge from Madeira Place in Brighton to Pall Mall in London, said: “This is the biggest challenge that we’ve given the E Vito to date, and despite our expectations of it achieving 80 miles from a single six-hour full charge, the regular stopping caused by traffic signals from the outskirts of London did raise initial concerns.

“However, it was a very smooth ride and all partners are incredibly proud of how it performed. Zytek is committed to working with other vehicle companies to take this technology forward and we hope that this rally is further evidence of the great service it could give to taxi operators in the future.”

The vehicle is licensed for use in London after meeting all of the legislative requirements of the Public Carriage Office. It incorporates a battery power pack installed in a weatherproof enclosure beneath the vehicle floor, so the internal space of the taxi will remain unaffected by the electric conversion, not compromising luggage space and also improving vehicle stability.

Its development programme was part-funded the Niche Vehicle Network (NVN), which was established with £2.5 million funding from Advantage West Midlands and is managed in Coventry by Cenex, the Centre of Excellence for Low Carbon & Fuel Cell Technologies.

The NVN promotes collaborative working amongst its 56 member companies that are encouraged to develop innovative and competitive niche vehicles and technologies.

Recent success stories of the programme include Westfield’s all-electric sports car and the hydrogen-powered Microcab vehicle.

Julia Chance, programme manager for Cenex, said: “Zytek is one of the world’s most experienced developers of powertrains for electric vehicles. Everyone involved in the NVN was keen to support the development of this cutting edge model, which we believe can play a major role in a future low carbon transport infrastructure.

“The E Vito is certainly one of the NVN’s marquee projects, and is one of several initiatives we are involved in that creates and safeguards jobs within the West Midlands as well as highlighting our expertise in low carbon vehicles on the world stage.”