Staveley Head

Staveley Head

March 30, 2010 02:00 ET

Black Cab Production Moving to China

FLINT, UNITED KINGDOM--(Marketwire - March 30, 2010) - Manufacture of the famous TX4 taxi, affectionately known as the London Black Cab, is set to move to Shanghai. The Chinese auto group Geely is about to take a controlling share in Manganese Bronze, the British manufacturer of the iconic cab. Geely already own 20% of the company and Manganese has said they are considering placing a new share issue with the Chinese company which will give them a controlling interest of at least 51%.

Manganese recently reported a £7.3 million trading loss in 2009, which follows a previous loss of £14.2 million in 2008. Analysts predict that the new investment by Geely will mean the salvation of Manganese which has suffered financially since the discovery of component faults in various models in its range. It has also experienced falling sales revenue as competitors such as the Mercedes Vito make inroads into the market.

The Asian company has declared that it will move more production, specifically the manufacture of bodies and chassis for the TX4, from Coventry to Shanghai resulting in the loss of some 60 jobs at the plant. The famous "Made in Coventry with pride" logo, which has been a feature for many years , no longer adorns the newer manufactured black cabs.

Staveley Head, one of the UK's leading taxi insurance providers, expressed regret at this latest development. A spokesman said "The British motor manufacturing base is being slowly eroded to nothing. The black cab is uniquely British. It's synonymous with London and it's shameful that another overseas investor can take the marquee abroad. As a nation we seem intent on selling the family silver."

Manganese chief executive John Russell said "This is a bit of a turning point for us. Seeing the immediate benefits of our relationship with Geely coming through in the TX4, we are now at a point where we can think about building a closer relationship with our Chinese partner."

This is the latest blow to hit the British motor manufacturing industry, following the closure of the Leyland Daf factory and the uncertainty surrounding the future of the two Vauxhall plants in Luton and Ellesmere Port. Another small part of our great British heritage lost forever.

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