“As a recently graduated car designer, I could only dream of working on a car that is known all over the world as a symbol for London. Who would have thought I would help influence the image of London’s streets,” says Niels van Roij, who did a Master Vehicle Design at Royal College of Art after graduating at Design Academy Eindhoven in the department of Man and Mobility. As a Senior Research Associate at the Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design at the Royal College of Art, Niels worked on Tomorrow’s Taxi’: built on a great British design heritage.
On 16 January, Karsan revealed its designs for a new inclusive London taxi, based on the iconic black cab, at Mayor of London Boris Johnson’s Zero Emissions London Taxi launch event. Karsan is working on this project with London’s prestigious Royal College of Art, where Niels van Roij is in the research and design team.
Designed from scratch
Tomorrow’s Taxi is based on the Concept V1 and is a unique vehicle with a unique design process that involves all stakeholders of the London taxi. Niels: “We have talked and worked with all parties to create the current proposals. We gathered needs and wishes of drivers and all kinds of users. A taxi has to be accessible, safe and comfortable for all people: disabled young, old, people in wheelchairs. The V1 is designed from scratch. It isn’t based on a small bus. That is the real unique selling point of this taxi,” says Niels.
In 2016, the car will actually be manufactured. Until then, the RCA team are in research and development and conducting workshops with drivers, users and London transport authorities continue.
Made for London’s traffic, drivers and passengers
Tomorrow’s Taxi comes with lots of improvements compared to the current black cab, which has been more or less the same for 20 years. One of the most innovative aspects of the new Concept V1 is its ability to communicate with other road users. A signaling system mounted on the rear will ensure that cyclists, pedestrians and other vehicles are alerted when passenger doors are opening. The car also offers much better passenger service, as it has an unconventionally large interior and has advanced connectivity for both social and business demands.
From Design Academy Eindhoven to London
For Niels, this is only the beginning of a career in London. Besides his part-time job with RCA, he runs his own studio in the city where he works independently with a team of highly skilled designers for all sorts of clients. Sometimes they are linked to the car industry and mobility, sometimes not. “Studying at RCA was great because I could dive deeply into car design. But in general I still build a lot on what I’ve learned at Design Academy Eindhoven. I like to work out of my comfort zone, to question everything, to take full responsibility for the process. Self-criticism was a big part of my studies in Eindhoven, and I still benefit from it.”
For more of Niels’s work, go to http://www.nielsvanroij.nl/