Thursday 25th March RMT LTDB were invited to attend the launch of the London Taxi Company’s new factory in Ansty, Coventry.
Geely, who owns the iconic London Taxi Company, was awarded £17 million from the government’s Regional Growth Fund to build this facility, which will create 1,000 local jobs and ensure the London black taxi continues to be designed, developed and made in the UK. The company outlined plans for the new £250 million state of the art facility to produce the next generation of
low-emission London Black Taxis. As well as having capacity to manufacture additional vehicles or fleets.
The launch was welcomed by Government with both Prime Minister David Cameron and Boris Johnson visiting the existing factory. Lord Livingston, Minister of State for Trade and Investment, announced a further £25 million has been set aside specifically for the Greater London Area to help taxi drivers cover the cost of upgrading to a greener vehicle.
The new taxis will comply with the new regulations being introduced by the Mayor of London that will require all London taxis to be zero-emission capable from January 2018. Unfortunately for the events guests there where no glimpses of the new cab itself, no final designs, specifications or price announced. A information booklet was supplied setting out that the new taxi will be electric with a combustion engine back up and a new lightweight body structure that meets specifications desired by OLEV (office for low emission vehicles).
It was reported in The Times that the London Cab was being used as a “Trojan Horse” to allow Geely to build tens of thousands of low-emissions vans. The article further scrutinised the manufacture probing how much of the new vehicles would be sourced in Britain, with the most expensive component, the lithium-ion battery coming from South Korea.
While cynical, one can see a positive. The volume of London Black Cabs sold around the world probably doesn’t warrant a fifth of this investment so the fact Geely have chosen to develop a low-emissions cab can only be a good thing.
The fight we face now is to make sure there is still a trade to drive the new vehicles come 2018.