Plans to turn London's iconic black cab green received a major boost today as Chinese manufacturer Geely revealed it would invest £250m in a new Coventry factory, creating up to 1,000 jobs.
The London Taxi Company (LTI) owner said the new purpose built facility will focus on building the new electric and ultra-low emission taxis that are expected to hit the market in 2017, as well as on further research and development.
The new plant is set to create up to 1,000 new jobs, according to Geely.
Following the news, ministers have today announced £45m to support the rollout of greener taxis.
A £20m fund will be made available to local authorities to support the rollout of ultra-low emission taxis across the UK. The money will be available to reduce the upfront cost of purpose built taxis and to install charging infrastructure for taxi and private hire use.
A further £25m has been set aside specifically for the Greater London Area to help taxi drivers cover the cost of upgrading to a greener vehicle.
All taxis will also qualify for the Government’s plug-in car grant, which currently offers up to £5000 off the cost of an eligible low emission vehicle.
From today local authorities are invited to bid for feasibility studies to prepare for the rollout of these vehicles in their fleets. The full guidance is available here.
The news follows Geely’s announcement today outlining plans for a new £250 million state of the art facility to produce the next generation of low-emission London Black Taxis.
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 1000 local jobs and ensure the London Black Taxi continues to be designed, developed and made in the UK.
These 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.
Business Minister Matthew Hancock said: “This is a historic moment for the automotive sector and goes to show that it is thriving in Britain today.
“Low emission vehicles are the future and show that we can meet our climate change obligations in a way that enhances technology.
“I’m looking forward to the roll-out of greener taxis across the UK and have no doubt that with the support of Geely this will happen very quickly.”
Transport Minister Baroness Kramer said: “The low emission vehicle sector is going from strength to strength with demand in the UK up by over 300% last year, making the UK a leading market for this technology. Today’s announcement means ultra low-emission taxis will be the smart choice for more taxi drivers and everyone will benefit from improved air quality and greener travel.”
Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: “As London strives towards the greenest taxi fleet from 2018, it is essential to support the taxi trade in the transition to cleaner vehicles. With the additional funds announced today, more help is on the way for taxi drivers to upgrade to the latest technology in zero emission capable cabs. Alongside the world’s first Ultra Low Emission Zone from 2020 these measures will boost jobs and growth in the development and manufacturing of ultra low emission technologies, secure the long-term future of the taxi industry, and ensure everyone who lives, works in, or visits our city has the cleanest possible air to breathe.”