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London cabs make comeback

It is a sight as familiar to visitors to the capital as Big Ben or Busbies. But last autumn the firm behind London taxis, Manganese Bronze, went into administration and production of the black cabs stopped. Since then, however, the company has been bought over by the Chinese motor group, Geely and production resumed at the Coventry factory on Wednesday 11th September.

It is a sight as familiar to visitors to the capital as Big Ben or Busbies. But last autumn the firm behind London taxis, Manganese Bronze, went into administration and production of the black cabs stopped. Since then, however, the company has been bought over by the Chinese motor group, Geely and production resumed at the Coventry factory on Wednesday 11th September. Business secretary, Vince Cable restarted production of the latest TX4 model and commented: "After a period of worry and uncertainty for the workforce, Geely Group's investment has secured the future of the iconic black cabs company, protecting highly skilled jobs in the Midlands and ensuring that London cabs continue to be made here in Britain. It is also a clear demonstration of the success of the British car industry, which has gone from strength to strength even during tough economic times."

Geely paid just £11m to administrators to buy the firm six months ago. Manganese Bronze had got into difficulty after the production of the TX4 cabs was suspended in autumn 2012. The suspension followed a recall of the cabs after the discovery of a fault which affected the steering of the vehicles. Some 5,000 of the cabs had previously been recalled in 2008 after it was reported that some were catching fire. The latest recall seemed to be the final nail in the coffin for the firm and it went into administration two weeks later.

Geely chairman, Li Shufu, said that restarting production at the Coventry plant had already created 66 new jobs but this must be balanced against the 156 jobs lost when the company went into administration. Mr Shufu said: "Today is a milestone in the history of the London Taxi Company (LTC), but it marks just the beginning of what we believe will be a strong and prosperous future. We are pleased to have created dozens of new jobs and have already begun work on the planning and design of the next generation of this iconic vehicle. Thanks to the work of everyone here and everyone that has supported us, LTC has an exciting future ahead of it." 

The production of London cabs has never been a high volume affair and only some 2,000 vehicles per year will be produced. The company plans to export around half of these. Geely has already secured contracts in the Middle East and Azerbaijan to supply the vehicles. The company has also said that it may transfer production of some of its Chinese cars to the UK.

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