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Nissan unveils new London cab

The taxi will cut carbon dioxide emissions in half.

It's London calling for Nissan, which has made the most of the Olympic spotlight on the city by unveiling its new five-seater NV200 London Taxi.

The vehicle, based on the company’s multi-purpose NV200 compact van, is 50 per cent more fuel-efficient than alternative cabs and cuts carbon dioxide emissions in half – good news for the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, who has promised to tackle London's air-quality problem. Johnson said: 

Having taken the significant step of introducing the first age limit for taxis in London, I am absolutely delighted that manufacturers are stepping up to the plate and are responding to the challenge I set in my air-quality strategy to reduce taxi emissions and improve efficiency. I look forward to when a fully competitive model comes to market.

The new taxi features a 2.7-litre TD27 diesel engine and complies with Transport for London regulations. The company is also planning to trial an all-electric e-NV200 prototype London Taxi in 2013.

Nissan has already unveiled versions of the NV200 taxi in Tokyo and New York City.

Andy Palmer, executive vice-president of Nissan, said:

Nissan is proud to be delivering a 21st-century vision for one of London’s most iconic vehicles. The "black cab" is as much a part of the London landscape as Big Ben and, whilst there will always be a place for that familiar silhouette, the Nissan NV200 London Taxi focuses as much attention on its interior as the exterior – a better experience for drivers and passengers.

Palmer concluded:

The Nissan NV200 is a global taxi, launching in the biggest and brightest cities in the world. Safe, comfortable, efficient and convenient – it’s a great step forward for providing a transport solution that is good for both its users and other city inhabitants.

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Is anyone prepared to solve the NHS funding crisis?

As long as the political taboo on raising taxes endures, the service will be in financial peril. 

It has long been clear that the NHS is in financial ill-health. But today's figures, conveniently delayed until after the Conservative conference, are still stunningly bad. The service ran a deficit of £930m between April and June (greater than the £820m recorded for the whole of the 2014/15 financial year) and is on course for a shortfall of at least £2bn this year - its worst position for a generation. 

Though often described as having been shielded from austerity, owing to its ring-fenced budget, the NHS is enduring the toughest spending settlement in its history. Since 1950, health spending has grown at an average annual rate of 4 per cent, but over the last parliament it rose by just 0.5 per cent. An ageing population, rising treatment costs and the social care crisis all mean that the NHS has to run merely to stand still. The Tories have pledged to provide £10bn more for the service but this still leaves £20bn of efficiency savings required. 

Speculation is now turning to whether George Osborne will provide an emergency injection of funds in the Autumn Statement on 25 November. But the long-term question is whether anyone is prepared to offer a sustainable solution to the crisis. Health experts argue that only a rise in general taxation (income tax, VAT, national insurance), patient charges or a hypothecated "health tax" will secure the future of a universal, high-quality service. But the political taboo against increasing taxes on all but the richest means no politician has ventured into this territory. Shadow health secretary Heidi Alexander has today called for the government to "find money urgently to get through the coming winter months". But the bigger question is whether, under Jeremy Corbyn, Labour is prepared to go beyond sticking-plaster solutions. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.