In 2019, the first fully electric black cab launched on the streets of London. By July 2019, LEVC (London Electric Vehicle Company) had produced 2,500 electric taxis. Yet these weren’t the first electric taxis to wheel their way down London’s roads.
The first electric vehicle was invented in 1884 and in 1897 the ‘Bersey Taxi’ made its debut.

London’s 1897 electric cab. Image @TheEngineer

With a fleet of 13 vehicles, the London Electrical Cab Company set its sights on the streets of London on August 19th, 1897.
Inventor Walter Charles Bersey, wanted the vehicle to resemble London’s horse-drawn taxis while omitting the need for overworked horses. The cab had three different speed settings – 3, 7 or 9 mph and an 8-horse power Johnson-Lundell motor. There was a lot of excitement around the release of the taxis. In August 1897 The Engineer wrote, “The ‘cabbies’ are, we are informed, quite enthusiastic about the new vehicle.
The life of the Bersey Taxi was short-lived, however. Due to a combination of the weight of the carriages and drastic wear & tear to the wheels, the taxis disappeared after around two years.
It’s a shame that the electric vehicle never took off over 120 years ago, but we’re incredibly pleased that it is finally gaining traction once again.
Viva electric!