Two European cities, including one in the UK, are likely to be ahead of London in the race to launch the electric version of Nissan’s NV200 black cab – even though the car was designed at the company’s Paddington studios with the UK capital in mind.

Barcelona, Spain, and an unspecified UK city will be first to bring the car to the streets, mainly because they have a more advanced infrastructure, Nissan’s chief planning officer Andy Palmer said in Detroit.

“It has two fast chargers, but it won’t work without the infrastructure,” said Palmer.

“There are 22,000 cabs in London so the potential for the electric version depends on the infrastructure and we are having discussions about that. But London lends itself to the E-NV version: 40% of the particulates in the air in Westminster comes from cabs.”

The internal combustion version is due for launch at the end of this year and Palmer refuted criticism of its styling, and particularly of its heavy-looking front grille.

“We read the blogs, too, so we know it has had a mixed reaction but all cabbies are worried about is the total cost of ownership and whether it is going to attract a fare,” he said.

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“The interior is wonderful compared to today’s cabs, with enormous space, wheelchair access, a panoramic roof and bacteria-free seating. It will offer significantly better fuel consumption and a proper service network, and there will be a dedicated dealer at Stratford.”

Palmer said the interior layout would mirror that of today’s cabs, with a three-person bench and two flip-down seats in the back but there would be sliding seats to provide greater versatility with luggage space.