|Manufacturer||LTI Vehicles (2007–2010)
The London Taxi Company (2010–present)
Geely Automobile (2008-present)
|Also called||Englon TX4(China)|
|Body and chassis|
|Body style||4-door saloon type|
|Engine||VM Motori 2.5 litre, I4, turbo intercooled diesel|
|Width||2036 mm (incl. mirrors)|
|Curb weight||1,975 kg (4,354 lb)|
The TX4 is a purpose-built taxicab (hackney carriage) manufactured by The London Taxi Company (formerly LTI Vehicles), a subsidiary of Manganese Bronze which has itself been wholly owned since 2013 by Geely Automobile of China.
The TX4 is the latest in a long line of purpose-built taxis produced by The London Taxi Company and various predecessor entities. The design has evolved via several mutations from the Austin FX3 of the 1950s. The TX4 takes virtually all of its body styling from its predecessor, the TXII.
The TX4 features a new front radiator grille, an updated interior design, updated front and rear bumpers, and a different rear vehicle registration number plate surround compared to the TXII. There are now internal headrests as a result of EU safety regulations. On the earlier models there were two headrests fitted to the central partition for the rear-facing tip-up seats, but on the later models these were removed as drivers complained and found them awkward for vision reasons.
The only engine offered in the UK is a 2.5 VM Motori R 425 DOHC diesel engine (rated at a peak 75 kW or 101 hp at 4,000 rpm and 240 Nm of torque at 1,800 rpm) mated to a Chrysler 545RFE five-speed automatic transmission. An Eaton FSO 2405 A five-speed manual transmission is also available.
In markets outside the UK the TX4 is also available with a 2.4 Mitsubishi 4G69 four-cylinder petrol engine, rated at 112 kW (152 PS) at 5,500 rpm and 212 Nm at 4,000 rpm. The only gearbox available with this engine is a Mitsubishi-built five-speed manual.
The front suspension, as with its predecessors, is of the double wishbone type with coil springs and an anti-roll bar while the rear suspension uses a solid axle with coil springs and a Panhard rod.
Anecdotally the reason for there being no TX3 and the marque number going straight to 4 is because the engine was Euro IV compliant, and also for the vehicle to have a connection with the famous Austin FX4. The diesel engine is now Euro 5 compliant.
Hydrogen Fuel Cell London Taxis
London’s new fleet of five hydrogen fuel cell powered taxis provided by the HyTEC (Hydrogen Transport for European Cities) project have now driven 2500 miles in total, fuelled by the capital’s second hydrogen fuelling station at Heathrow airport.
The first phase of the HyTEC project saw the pioneering fleet of fuel cell electric London Taxis, which were developed by the UK power technology company Intelligent Energy and The London Taxi Company, transport 40 visiting dignitaries and the VIP guests of the Greater London Authority during the Olympic and Paralympic period. High-profile individuals included Arnold Schwarzenegger and Barbara Windsor, with some VIPs undertaking more than one journey in the fuel cell electric taxis. Members of the GLA including Mayor Boris Johnson and Deputy Mayors Kit Malthouse, Munira Mirza and Sir Edward Lister also had the opportunity to ride in the cabs.
The current prototype (made with the help of Lotus Engineering) has a range of 250 miles (400 km) and top speed of over 80 mph (it recently achieved 95 mph at the Millbrook test track). The hydrogen tank can supposedly be refilled in five minutes. Currently £5.5 million has been used to fund the project from the Technology Strategy Board.
In January 2007, an Extraordinary General Meeting of the LTI's shareholders approved a joint venture with Geely Automobile—called Shanghai LTI(SLTI)—to manufacture the TX4 in China. Production started in July 2008. In August 2010 Geely disclosed that Shanghai LTI began supplying SKD (semi-knocked-down) TX4 to the UK. Geely sells the TX4 cab under their "Englon" brand, but have also developed a new version called the TXN. The TXN, planned to go on sale in the future, has a more bulbous shape meant to be more youthful. A concept version called the Englon SC7-RV has also been shown in 2011; this is intended to be used as a private family saloon.
The TX4 taxi can be seen in service in London, Baku, Cairo, Pristina, Berlin, Ottawa, Charleston, South Carolina, with "Desert Cabs" of Las Vegas, Sunshine Taxi in Hudson, Massachusetts, Singapore, Johannesburg and Nanjing.
Recalls, Engine failures, Faults and Problems
In September 2008, approximately 15 engine fires in a period of three months forced a partial recall of the TX4. A limited number of vehicles were affected and the Public Carriage Office—now renamed LTPH (London Taxis and Private Hire)—required all models with a '56' registration plate to undergo safety checks otherwise drivers would lose their carriage licence.
The news of the fires hit the headlines after Big George, a presenter on BBC London 94.9, received photos of a taxi that burst into flames outside Stringfellows on Upper St. Martin's Lane on the 12th of September 2008.
Manganese Bronze, the by now troubled maker of the famous London taxis, was thrown into further turmoil after it announced plans to recall 400 black cabs and suspend sales, following discovery of a steering fault. Manganese reported the discovery of a defect with new steering boxes in its TX4 models, which had been introduced in February 2012 to vehicles produced at its Coventry factory. It warned that the recall and sales suspension would have a "material and detrimental" impact on its cashflow and said it was looking at options for the firm. The news came as the latest blow to the company, which had been hit by mounting losses and an accounting blunder that left it with a £4 million hole in its accounts. Manganese, which suspended trading of its shares earlier in the day, said it was working with Chinese partner Geely (already a 20% shareholder in the business) to fix the steering fault. But they said: "Until such time that a technical solution is developed to rectify the fault, the financial position of the group remains unclear and trading in the company's shares will remain suspended." The company had not reported any profits since 2008.
Administration and a new owner for the business
On 30 October 2012 Manganese Bronze Holdings went into administration, and on the 31 October 2012 PricewaterhouseCoopers, the administrators, shed 156 jobs at the Coventry head office and production line, and other jobs at various dealer outlets around the country including London. Production at the Coventry site resumed in September 2013, ownership of the assets formerly owned by Manganese bronze having now passed to Geely of China.
- London Taxi Company - manufacturer and main UK site
- "TX4 Options & Specifications" (PDF). LTI Ltd. September, 2006. Retrieved March 13, 2012.
- "The London Taxi: TX4 Euro 5" (PDF). LTI Ltd. February, 2012. Retrieved 4 March 2012.
- "China's Geely saves London cab maker Manganese Bronze". The Telegraph. 1 February 2013. Retrieved 18 February 2013.
- Joseph, Noah (October 19, 2006). "Where to, gov'na? New TX4 London cabs introduced in Europe". AOL Inc. Retrieved March 4, 2012.
- Good news travels fast! TX4, from TBF News, Spring 2007, Issue 07, page 13
- "Shanghai LTI Starts Supplying SKD TX4 to the UK". ChinaAutoWeb.com.
- "Geely Englon SC7-RV Concept, TX4 Made Youthful: Auto Shanghai in Pictures". ChinaAutoWeb.com. 2011-04-25.
- "Fires force black cabs off roads". BBC News Online. 2008-09-17.
- "Coventry taxi maker LTI sold to Chinese firm Geely for £11.4m". BBC News. 1 February 2013. Retrieved 18 February 2013.
- Fry, Stephen (2009-04-20). "Picked myself out a very fine black TX4...". Twitter.