Chinese auto maker Zhejiang Geely Holding Group is getting the maker of London's famous black cabs back on the road after earlier this year rescuing what is now known as London Taxi Co.
But competition in LTC's home market is about to get tougher for a company that lacks the volume and technology of its much-larger rivals.
Mercedes-Benz as London's third black-cab supplier next year. Nissan is moving into London as it prepares to launch a version of its NV200 compact van to New York City taxi owners.
Car-making remains a highly capital-intensive business, driven in part by environmental regulations. Nissan said its cabs will be twice as economical as other London cabs and emit less carbon dioxide. London Mayor Boris Johnson wants London's minicabs and taxis to have zero emissions by 2020.
Production of LTC's TX4 cab restarted last month following the February acquisition by Geely of the automotive assets of the bankrupt manufacturer of London's black cab, Manganese Bronze Holdings. LTC aims to produce 10 vehicles a day, targeting sales of 2,000 in the first year, half for overseas customers.
Geely had been a minority shareholder in the defunct Manganese Bronze. Taking full control of LTC is a small part of Geely's broader push outside China. The company acquired Swedish auto maker Volvo Car Corp. from Ford Motor Co. in 2010.
"We are growing exports all over the world," said Peter Johansen, LTC Vice President. "There have always been dribs and drabs of buyers outside the U.K. but these tended to be mainly British expatriates—now we are tapping international markets on a bigger scale."
The company already is exporting cabs to customers in Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Azerbaijan and last week announced its first order from Australia. LTC is to supply around 100 of its white "hot-climate" taxis for a trial in the city of Perth on Australia's west coast. A full rollout involving another 200 cabs in Perth is planned for next year and LTC has plans to widen its reach across Australia.
"We are confident that we will be importing cabs into cities across Australia next year," Mr. Johansen said.
Nissan is just months away from starting production of its own taxi that conforms with London's strict licensing rules. The so-called Conditions of Fitness lay down standards which vehicles must meet to be used as cabs. Among them is the requirement for a maximum 25-foot (7.5-meter) turning circle, which allows taxis to make U-turns in London's streets, many of which were laid out in the days of horse-drawn carriages.
There are 25,000 licensed cabdrivers and 22,500 licensed vehicles in London, according to Transport for London, the local government body responsible for the city's transport system. The traditional London cabs now made by LTC, and known as Hackney Carriages, account for 20,495 with the balance consisting of the Mercedes-Benz's Vito model, launched in 2008. Total vehicle sales per year is around 1,200.
Chinese auto maker Zhejiang Geely rescuing what is now known as London Taxi Co. Nissan Motor Co. is set to join Daimler Mercedes-Benz as London's third black-cab supplier next year. Nissan is moving into London as it prepares to launch a version of its compact van to New York City taxi owners. LTC aims to produce 10 vehicles a day, targeting sales of 2,000 in the first year, half for overseas customers. The company already is exporting cabs to customers in Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Azerbaijan and last week announced its first order from Australia. Nissan is just months away from starting production of its own taxi that conforms with London's strict licensing rules.
The new owner get the advantage of London black cabs reputation. He plan to expand overseas depend on what the tourists knew about London black cabs. I knew some cities started to use it like Riyadh, Saudi Arabia and Dubai, EAU then Australia now jump in this demand. That is excellent idea to spread this cabs around the world same as the taxi get yellow color.