Volkswagen's prototype electric taxi could herald the end of the traditional black cab -- and all other colours, for that matter. Meet the Milano Taxi.

Presented as a study into the viability of mass-market, emission-free cabbing, this emerald marvel is driven by a 115hp electric motor that gets its power from a lithium-ion battery pack with a storage capacity of 45 kilowatt-hours. Combined, they can drive the 1,500kg taxi to a top speed of 74mph, though the limited 175-mile range might actually give cabbies a proper excuse not to go south of the river.

Like the Tesla Roadster Sport Signature 250 we tested recently, the Milano Taxi's biggest stumbling point is the fact it takes several hours to recharge its battery. Being a lithium-ion unit, it can actually achieve 80 per cent of its full charge in just one hour, but if you're a full-time cabbie, that's probably about 59 minutes shy of an ideal figure.

There are numerous upsides, though. Because it's electric, the Milano Taxi could save cabbies hundreds of pounds per week in fuel costs, meaning they'd have to take fewer passengers, and could possibly even charge lower fares. There would also be less chance of drivers taking long, protracted routes given the vehicle's limited range.

Inside the passenger compartment, the Milano Taxi is equipped with an LCD display mounted on the rear of the driver's seat. This lets customers enjoy an overview of the route being taken, serves as a payment kiosk and a console to adjust the climate controls. The driver gets a similar screen up front, which can be personalised to show navigation functions, vehicle systems status or the passenger fare.

The Milano is still in the concept stage, but Volkswagen says it's one of the many options it's considering as it prepares to launch its first electric vehicle by 2013. Click the 'Continue' link below for another pic. More as we get it.

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The Milano Taxi measures just 3.7m in length, so it's significantly more compact than a London TXII cab. It'll be able to hold two passengers in relative comfort.
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