July 28, 2014

London Taxi maker Manganese Bronze bought by China’s Geely

China automotive giant Geely has bought Manganese Bronze – makers of the iconic London Black Cab – in an £11.04 million deal.

London Taxi TX4 on Westminster Bridge image

The iconic London Black Cab has been an accident waiting to happen for years, as under investment in making the Black Cab fit for the 21st century saw competition – like the Mercedes Vito Taxi and the Nissan NV200 Cab – start to offer serious competition to the taxi that identifies London.

Despite an investment by China’s Geely – when Geely bought 20 per cent of Manganese Bronze, makers of the Black Cab – and the bulk of the Black Cab being produced in China and bolted together in the Midlands, the final nail in the coffin for Manganese Bronze was the recall of 400 TX4 cabs over a steering fault.

That steering fault mess left Manganese Bronze in administration but now, as we reported back ion December, Geely has decided to buy what’s left of Manganese Bronze for £11.04 million and turn it in to Geely UK.

Li Shufu, Geely boss, said:

We have ambitious plans for the business and, despite it being clear that there are a number of challenges to be overcome, we are committed to working with all stakeholders to build a solid future for the Black Cab business that will enable it to return to profitability in the short term and grow substantially in the longer term.

We hope that means offering a London Taxi that still looks like a Black Cab should, but with modern underpinnings that can take the fight back to the Mercedes and Nissan taxis.

What it also means is that Geely will still have a route to the UK market for its Emgrand range of cars it’s planning to introduce in the UK. Not only that, but they will now be able to run it under the new Geely UK subsidiary.

It’s perhaps not the ideal route for the Balck Cab, but probably the only way we can keep such an iconic vehicle in production; London without the Black Cab would be like London without  Red Buses or the Changing of the Guard.

And for that we should be pleased; for the employees of Manganese Bronze, for Black Cab drivers, for London – and for Geely.

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