Thursday, 26 March 2015
Geely behind £250 million UK ‘black cab’ plant
A new facility is to be built in Coventry at a cost of £250 million to manufacture London ‘black cab’ taxis and create up to 1,000 jobs.
In what seems a miraculous turnaround, Geely Automotive is to invest in a new state-of the-art research, development and assembly facility would prepare the ground for the introduction of the next generation electric and ultra-low emission London Black Cab.
The investment in the London Taxi Company, by its Chinese owner Geely Automotive, is being supported by the Government's Regional Growth Fund. The news comes after JaguarLandRover’s investment plans for the UK. This investment, that of the NAIC and JLR's own plans will place huge pressures of engineering and production availability in the West Midlands which has witnessed a huge decline in the number of manufacturing jobs as, one by one, motor vehicle builders have exited the business.
Geely said the new state-of the-art research, development and assembly facility would prepare the ground for the introduction of the next generation electric and ultra-low emission London Black Cab.
Even more strange is that, according to Geely, the plant will have the capacity to assemble up to 36,000 vehicles a year; that is a ten-fold increase on the capabilities at its existing Coventry plant which has produced more than 130,000 cabs since 1948. This seems a very large number considering the market for this specialised vehicle.
For years, Manganese Bronze Holdings, the holding company of LTI Ltd – its only principal activity – struggled to survive. In October 2012, Manganese entered administration, having not made a profit since 2007.
Geely, which already owned 20 per cent of the shares in the company's UK business, agreed to purchase the London Taxi Company's principal assets and trade from the administrator in order to “save” the business and continue the production of taxis in Coventry, and later in Shanghai.
The London Taxi Company has said it is to develop the next generation black cab to comply with new emission regulations being introduced by the City's mayor from 2018.
Boris Johnson, Mayor of London, said: "The production of zero emission-capable vehicles, incorporating the latest state of the art technology, is essential as we strive to create the greenest taxi fleet in the world for London.
"I warmly welcome Geely's commitment to building this impressive new factory in Coventry, highlighting the UK's position as a world leader in the development and manufacturing of ultra-low emission technologies.
"The vehicles this facility produces will help transform London's taxi fleet, boost jobs and growth in London and the West Midlands, and secure the long-term future of the taxi industry, whilst ensuring everyone who lives, work in or visits our city has the cleanest possible air to breathe," he concluded.
Meanwhile, it will be interesting to see just how successful is this new investment.