London black cab production restarts six months after Chinese rescue
The production line for London black cabs resumed on Wednesday, six months after the company behind the famous vehicles was rescued by the Chinese Geely Group.
The business secretary, Vince Cable, who was in Coventry to officially restart production of the TX4 black cab said:
"After a period of worry and uncertainty for the workforce, Geely Group's investment has secured the future of the iconic black cabs company, protecting highly skilled jobs in the Midlands and ensuring that London cabs continue to be made here in Britain," he said. "It is also a clear demonstration of the success of the British car industry, which has gone from strength to strength even during tough economic times."
Geely bought Manganese Bronze, which had been making black cabs since 1948, out of administration for just ￡11m in February.
Production of black cabs was halted last autumn when Manganese Bronze was forced to launch an emergency recall after discovering a steering fault that left some drivers "struggling to steer the vehicles correctly".
It was not the first time Manganese had been forced to launch an emergency recall of the TX4 model. In 2008 it called back 5,000 of the early TX4 after some of them caught fire.
But less than two weeks after last year's recall the company went into administration.
Li Shufu, the chairman of Geely, which also owns Volvo, said restarting production had created 66 new jobs. However, 156 workers - including 99 of the 176 employees at the Holyhead Road plant - lost their jobs when Manganese called in administrators.
"Today is a milestone in the history of the London Taxi Company (LTC), but it marks just the beginning of what we believe will be a strong and prosperous future," he said.
"We are pleased to have created dozens of new jobs and have already begun work on the planning and design of the next generation of this iconic vehicle. Thanks to the work of everyone here and everyone that has supported us, LTC has an exciting future ahead of it."
Once fully up and running, the production line will complete about 10 new taxis a day, five days a week. The company expects to export about half of the 2,000 vehicles it will produce in the first year, after winning contracts to supply Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Azerbaijan. Only 900 cabs were produced last year before the production line was shutdown.
Geely has pledged to invest ￡150m in the London Taxi Company's Coventry factory and developing a new TX5 model over five years. It is also considering expanding production in Coventry and other sites in the UK. More than 130,000 black taxis have been made at the Coventry over the past 60 years.
The company said it is also considering the possibility of transferring the production of some Geely cars from China to the UK in the future.
Peter Johansen, vice president of UK operations for LTC, said: "The financial strength and commitment of Geely provides us opportunities to continue to improve our TX4 taxi and, at the same time, develop the next generation of taxis to take us forward into the 21st century."
A former British success story, Manganese had failed to turn a profit since 2007. The company faced growing competition after cab drivers were in 2008 given permission to use the Mercedes Vito, breaking Manganese's monopoly. Nissan have put on hold plans to launch a London taxi product.
Yet again British management fails , while British workforce succeeds..Lions lead by donkeys.
If there's a will, there's a way.
Is it British 'management' or the ownership ? I think it is the latter which is the root of the problem.
I know blaming UK management is like shooting fish in a barrel but on this occasion I think undeserved. The cause of the fault was blamed on the steering box which was made by... Geely! A UK manufactured box does not appear to be susceptible to the same fault.
All of these Geely cars etc. are reverse engineered Western cars. They seem to struggle to engineer their own, look at how desperate SAC was to get its hard on MG/Rover's designs
The case of the failed gearboxes supplied by Geely and then the buyout by Geely surely deserves some investigation? Be great to see an article on this.
Potentially libellous implications in that though. Would want to tread very carefully
Why does the article call them 'Lonon' cabs? Liverpool and Oxford taxi drivers use them too...
Because they were first designed in response to a request by the London Taxi trade to design and build them a new taxi to replace the worn out fleet that had been used since before 1939. However their use has spread not only across the UK but also around the world (albeit in very small numbers comparatively)
No one will ever call it a bleedin' Liverpool or Oxford cab.
Well, if money were to change hands, perhaps...
Good news for British manufacturing and the Balance of Payments (if slight)
Funny how many countries seem to have foreign investors who see great opportunity and profit but home grown investors where are they?
Paying themselves bonuses from speculation on the financial markets
So when China rescues a British Institution such as the Black Cabs, it's not Colonisation. However, if this had happened anywhere in Africa, it would be the Chinese are taking over and colonising Africa. Poor Africans....Blah Blah Blah...
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I admire Manganese Bronze as a company, but I really find it bizarre that people still like London taxicabs.
I have always thought that the London taxicab:
1) Is Extremely ugly
2) Is Uncomfortable
3) Is Even more uncomfortable and unpleasant when there are more than two passengers, because they have to face each other.
4) Has poor sightlines for passengers wanting to look out of the windows.
I don't know what the future of Manganese Bronze is, and though I still admire it for its achievements as a company, I think the Chinese should disinvest themselves of the product. Unless they want to redesign a taxicab around a traditional rickshaw, or a palanquin, maybe?
I guess that means that our taxi's will now be installed with monitoring and surveillance devices.