Volkswagen's series of Up! concept cars has centered on urban mobility, so it's not too surprising to see the German automaker reinvent the small car as a compact, eco-friendly taxi cab.
Volkswagen unwrapped the Milano Taxi concept this morning at a trade show in Hanover, Germany. For the most part, the new concept is an update of the company's Space Up! Blue concept, which first debuted at the 2007 Los Angeles auto show. Unlike that concept, which theoretically utilized a hydrogen fuel cell, the Milano Taxi is strictly an electric vehicle. A 50-kW electric motor drives the rear wheels, and is powered by a lithium-ion battery pack mounted underneath the floor. According to VW, the setup is capable of propelling the Milano Taxi to a top speed of 74 mph, and granting the vehicle 186 miles of range on a single charge.
Although the design itself is almost four years old, designers haven't strayed from the original concept's form. Instead, they focused on repurposing the MPV for livery use. For example, they crafted the Milano as a three-door vehicle, forcing passengers to use the curbside door for safer entry and egress. VW also removed the front passenger's seat, granting some additional legroom or a place for extra baggage. Passengers are treated to an 8-inch screen that allows them to view charges and search maps, along with a panoramic view from the giant glass sunroof, reportedly inspired by the original Volkswagen Microbus.
Despite the livery (which matches the taxis presently used in Milano, Italy) and the fact that Volkswagen is set on launching its Up! family in the near future, we doubt the Milano Taxi will roll up to a taxi stand anytime soon. Expect to see the first production Up! variant unveiled sometime around 2013.