The London Taxi Company
|Private limited company|
|Founded||10 March 1899|
|Headquarters||Coventry, United Kingdom|
|Revenue||£74.98 million (2011)|
|(£1.31 million) (pre-exceptionals) (2011)|
|(£2.63 million) (pre-exceptionals) (2011)|
|Total assets||£58.8 million (31 December 2011)|
|Total equity||£16 million (31 December 2011)|
|Owner||Zhejiang Geely Holding Group|
Number of employees
|Parent||Geely UK Ltd.|
The London Taxi Corporation Ltd (trading as The London Taxi Company; formerly Manganese Bronze Holdings plc) is an automotive engineering company headquartered in Coventry, United Kingdom, and a wholly owned subsidiary of Chinese automaker Geely. It was founded in 1899 and its principal activity is the design, development and production of taxicabs.
Once an important conglomerator of British motorcycle marques, the sale of its components division in 2003 left the company with only one operating division—LTI Limited, trading as The London Taxi Company—which manufactures London black taxicabs for the UK market at its manufacturing site in Coventry and in Shanghai for sale in the rest of the world. It retails and provides maintenance services for taxis in major cities globally.
In October 2012, Manganese entered administration, having not made a profit since 2007. Geely, which already owned 20% 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.
Manganese originally made ship propellers. In the early 1960s Manganese Bronze Bearings Ltd (as it was then known) was taken over by Villiers Engineering Ltd, a motorcycle company chiefly known for its range of engines, creating Manganese Bronze Holdings Ltd. This company subsequently bought Associated Motor Cycles Ltd, owners of the Norton AJS and Matchless motorcycle brands in 1964.
Manganese absorbed part of the Birmingham Small Arms Company in 1973, under chairman Dennis Poore, as part of a rescue plan initiated by the British government. BSA Motorcycles interests trading as Triumph were combined with Manganese motorcycle production to form Norton Villiers Triumph. BSA Guns was liquidated in 1986. BSA's components businesses became Manganese Bronze Components Division, comprising sintering, precision casting and metal powders; this division was sold in 2003 and went bankrupt a short period later.
In January 2003 Manganese launched Zingo Taxi, an innovative taxi hailing system using mobile location technology. This was sold to Computer Cab in November 2004 for £1. This was to stem large losses because only 1,100 of London's approximately 21,000 taxi drivers subscribed. Between July 2003 and November 2004 Manganese also sold its property portfolio, including the land under its Coventry manufacturing facility.
In October 2006 Manganese and the Chinese automaker Geely announced the creation of a China-based taxicab manufacturing joint venture. An extraordinary general meeting held in January 2007 of Manganese's shareholders approved the formation of the joint venture. In June 2008 Manganese announced the production of the first prototype TX4 taxi at its Chinese joint venture, LTI Shanghai.
In July 2008 Manganese announced that it would be making redundant 40 employees as a result of the global economic downturn.
On 29 June 2009 the company advised that Geely had a notifiable interest in 6,085,000 of the company's ordinary shares, representing 19.971% of the issued ordinary share capital.
In March 2010 it was announced that Manganese would move the production of all taxicab bodies and chassis to Shanghai, but TX4 cabs for the UK market would continue to be assembled in Coventry. In the same month it was reported that Geely would increase its shareholding in Manganese to 51% through participation in a placing of new shares. In August 2010 it was announced that Geely had decided not to proceed with the share placement and its shareholding in Manganeze would remain at just under 20%.
Manganese entered administration on 22 October 2012 after failing to secure additional funding; PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) were appointed as the administrator. On 31 October PwC announced that 156 Manganese staff in the UK were to be made redundant with immediate effect, out of the company's then total of 274 employees in the country, with the losses spread across its manufacturing facility, head office and dealerships.
In January 2013, it was reported that Geely was in negotiations to buy the remaining shares of the company from PwC in order to save the business. A press statement in February 2013 announced that an agreement had been reached for Geely to purchase the remainder of the London Taxi Company's assets, manufacturing rights, unsold stock and dealerships, with a new company called Geely UK Ltd. resuming assembly of the London black cab in Coventry.
The classic Austin FX3 black taxicab of 1948 was built by car body builder Carbodies in partnership with Mann & Overton and Austin. More than 7,000, mainly destined for London, were produced over 10 years. Carbodies concentrated on producing complete taxis, starting with the Austin FX4 in 1958-59; this is the classic cab still common today. They were taken over by Manganese Bronze in 1973. In 1982 Carbodies took over the intellectual rights to the FX4 from British Leyland (which had by then absorbed Austin). Latterly, developed FX4 models became known as the LTI Fairway.
LTI introduced the successor to the FX4, the TX1 in 1997. It was developed into the TXII, which was introduced in 2002. It is powered by a Ford Dura Torq 2.4-litre diesel engine and features an integral, fold-down ramp for wheelchairs. It also has an intermediate step and swivel-out seat for passengers with moderate walking difficulties. For people with hearing problems it has an induction loop incorporated in the intercom system.
All taxis licensed in London must comply with the Conditions of Fitness, originally written in 1906 and which are managed by the Public Carriage Office (PCO). Formerly a civilian branch of the Metropolitan Police Service, the PCO is now part of Transport for London.
Over 130,000 London black cabs have been produced at the London Taxi Company's Coventry site over the past 60 years. Annual production averaged between 2,000 and 2,500 units per year. Around two-thirds of production goes into London via a dealership in Islington. The remainder goes mainly to the larger cities in the UK that have adopted the Conditions of Fitness. Outside these cities the market for taxis is dominated by multi-purpose vehicles that have been converted to make them wheelchair-accessible in line with the Disability Discrimination Act 1995.
In June 2007 Manganese finalised a joint venture with Geely to produce the purpose-built taxi in Shanghai. The joint venture company began manufacturing the London taxi in April 2009 following a successful launch at the Shanghai Auto Show. The vehicle is produced in Coventry for the UK market and the Shanghai joint venture manufactures the vehicle for the rest of the world. LTI rebranded to The London Taxi Company in 2010.
On 12 October 2012 the London Taxi Company announced the recall of some 460 of its TX4 model that had been delivered since late February 2012 owing to two incidents involving a loss of power steering. For reasons not understood, a circlip in a Chinese-engineered steering box was becoming detached causing the steering box to lock-up with a resultant loss of steering control. The 463 vehicles which were potentially affected by the problem steering box had the component replaced with a British-manufactured unit. In the interim, and following production staff redundancies at Coventry, no new cabs were manufactured or existing vehicle stock sold by the company's administrator until a replacement steering box had become available.
On 1 February 2013, administrator PwC confirmed that Geely had purchased the London Taxi Company's remaining assets, manufacturing rights, brand names, unsold stock and dealerships including the Mann & Overton site in London. With the intention of restarting production of the TX4, all retained staff will transfer to a new company to be named Geely UK Ltd, headquartered at the Coventry plant. The new company hopes to bring a smaller private hire taxi called the TXN into production by 2017.
Geely has been in talks over the possibility of converting London's black cabs into electric-powered vehicles. The company said it has held talks with UK government officials about the plan.
- "Manganese Bronze Holdings PLC Annual Report and Accounts 2011" (PDF). Manganese Bronze Holdings. Retrieved 1 November 2012.
- "Manganese Bronze makes redundancies at Coventry office and dealerships". The Guardian. 31 October 2012. Retrieved 1 November 2012.
- "Manganese hopes are hit by Zingo". The Guardian. 11 June 2004. Retrieved 10 November 2012.
- "Manganese finally jettisons Zingo for £1". The Telegraph. 25 November 2004. Retrieved 10 November 2012.
- "Black cab, U.K. transport icon, to be made in China - Business - International Herald Tribune". The New York Times. 4 October 2006. Retrieved 10 November 2012.
- Manganese Completes First Prototype of Chinese Built TX4 Taxi, Regulatory News Item, 25 June 2008 
- "150 manufacturing jobs to go in Coventry". The Coventry Telegraph. 4 July 2008. Retrieved 31 October 2012.
- "Geely set for control of London cab maker". Reuters. 17 March 2010. Retrieved 31 October 2012.
- "China's Geely ditches deal to take control of taxi-maker Manganese Bronze". The Telegraph. 13 August 2010. Retrieved 31 October 2012.
- "Manganese Bronze calls in administrators". BBC News. 22 October 2012. Retrieved 22 October 2012.
- "London black cab maker Manganese Bronze enters administration". The Guardian. 22 October 2012. Retrieved 22 October 2012.
- "Manganese Bronze makes 156 redundancies". BBC News. 31 October 2012. Retrieved 1 November 2012.
- "Coventry taxi maker LTI sold to Chinese firm Geely for £11.4m". BBC News. 1 February 2013. Retrieved 18 February 2013.
- "China's Geely saves London cab maker Manganese Bronze". The Telegraph. 1 February 2013. Retrieved 18 February 2013.
- "London Taxi Company Coventry plant to create 1,000 jobs". bbc.co.uk. 26 March 2015. Retrieved 26 March 2015.
- "Black cabs recalled in safety scare". The Guardian. 12 October 2012. Retrieved 1 December 2012.
- "Safety Recall Details for LTI - TX4". Department for Transport - VOSA. Retrieved 5 January 2013.
- "Geely: we'll make an electric London Cab". China Times. 20 October 2008. Retrieved 1 December 2012.
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