Since the 17th century, taxicabs have added to the charm, hustle and bustle of urban landscapes, ferrying us to and from appointments, functions, day trips and more.

If you own a taxi fleet, learning about the history of your entrepreneurial trade will only make you prouder – and give you a thing or two to talk about with your next fare!

The taxi industry is undergoing major change right now, thanks to new technology, fleet management tools and apps like Uber disrupting the traditional way of doing taxi business. The good news is that, as ever, the taxi industry is adapting – fast – and stylish new fleets are emerging.

Of course, with modernisation comes investment. As an owner of a taxi fleet, you’ll likely invest significantly in smart, fuel-efficient models, or perhaps opt for emission-free electric vehicles.

Your cabs will be out on the roads daily, facing all manner of driving conditions and customers.

This is why it’s vital to protect your business with top-notch taxi fleet insurance, so you have peace of mind you’re covered in the event of accidents, vehicular damage, injuries or theft.

Taxi Insurer is here to help. We offer competitive taxi fleet insurance cover, ensuring your cabs are protected under one straightforward policy, tailored to your business needs and budget.

We’re as passionate about the taxi industry as you are. So, take a look at our brief history of the taxi find out even more about this great industry.


The hackney coach heyday

Around about the time famous figures such as Elizabeth I and Samuel Pepys were born, so too was the taxicab – or Hackney Coach, as it was known in its 17th century incarnation.

The Hackney Coach was a horse-drawn cart on four wheels; the name is a bit of a giveaway, as it’s believed to be derived from ‘hacquenée’, a French word translated as ‘horse for hire’.

While the majority of these Hackney Coaches were owned by individual entrepreneurs, one ambitious fellow named Captain John Baily started a taxi rank – the first of its kind – investing in four vehicles that plied for trade in the Strand.

A rank of horse and carriage taxis

Hansom cabs take the lead

After roughly 200 years of popularity, the Hackney Coach found itself unseated by a newer rival on two wheels: the Hanson Cab.

Influenced by French ‘cabriolets’ introduced in the 1820s, designer Joseph Hanson created the Hanson Cab – the term ‘cab’ caught on and is still used today.

The Hanson Cab was faster and more secure, quickly becoming the taxi of choice, far and wide.


An electricity failure

Seasoned cabbies may be surprised to learn that the first electric taxi was on UK roads back in 1897 – then again, the taxi trade has always been a dynamic, inventive force.

The London Electrical Cab Company built the ‘Bersey’ in hopes of popularising the electric vehicle, however the endeavour was short-lived.

The Bersey quickly became known as the ‘Hummingbird’ due to its noisy motor, making it unpopular with drivers and members of the public alike.

The vehicle was both unreliable and expensive to run, causing more than a few road traffic accidents – thankfully nowadays we’re covered with reliable taxi fleet insurance!

Cabbies ditched the electric taxi in 1900 – little did they know what the future held for electrically-powered vehicles.


The game-changing Austin Motor Company

After WW1, the taxi industry was to undergo the greatest transformation yet, thanks to the Austin Motor Company.

The business was behind the creation and launch of the Austin 12/4 ‘High Lot’, a beautiful and spacious cab, perfect for customers’ tall top hats. It was an instant hit, enduring WW2.

The ‘High Lot’ was succeeded by the FX3, closer in appearance to the black cabs we know and love today. The petrol-fuelled vehicle was released in 1948, but high running costs led to its hasty replacement with a diesel-powered version.

A decade later, in 1958, the iconic FX4 was born – the black cab synonymous with the streets of London. In 1987 the cab underwent a makeover, being modernised and rebranded as the ‘Fairway’.

More recently, in a bid to reduce the environmental impact of traffic, new air-quality targets were rolled out by the Mayor of London, stripping vehicles over 15 years old of their licences.

As a result, the FX4 started its retirement journey – a sad but necessary evolution.

A hackney carriage crossing London bridge

The future’s electric

The FX4’s successor, the TX, wasn’t set to have such an illustrious career; Manganese Bronze, the manufacturer, is now in administration while the model itself has faced many recalls due to mechanical issues.

However, the cab industry is adapting and embracing modern technology. There are still plenty of vehicles available for hire, from more traditional models to greener hybrids, as well as emission-free electric taxis.

Many taxi fleet owners are switching to electric or hybrid vehicles, in part due to the introduction of more stringent emission standards and clean air zones in cities such as London, with others following suit.

These vehicles are cheap to run and help preserve the planet for future generations, but, inevitably, they require investment.


Protecting your taxi fleet

You can adapt to changing times, but you can never rule out every risk. Whatever kind of vehicles you invest in – be it electric, hybrid or petrol – you’ll need first-rate cover.

Your fleet will face daily wear and tear, as well as increased exposure to the chance of road traffic accidents, theft and injury.

This is why it’s so essential to protect your investment with a reliable taxi fleet insurance policy – legal, medical and repair bills can quickly pile up.

Taxi Insurer understands the pressures involved in running a successful cab company. We offer specialist taxi fleet insurance fitted around your individual business, covering three or more vehicles, whether you own a private, public or a mixed fleet.

The future of the taxi industry is bright, as technology evolves and becomes more efficient than ever – there’s no reason your fleet shouldn’t thrive.

We’re here to help you find the right cover, with the minimum of fuss, so you can get back to doing what you do best ­­– driving!

Get a quote today.