Black cab makers Manganese Bronze announced this week that 3,000 international orders have been placed for their latest model of the London-landmark taxi, equalling their UK production for last year.
The cabs will be supplied abroad for the first time in the coming years through the English firm’s joint venture with China’s Geely Automotive. They will be manufactured in Shanghai and distributed to the Middle East, South America and eastern Europe. This week it was revealed that the first 500 vehicles are to be supplied to six countries in early 2009 with 2,500 more following over the next three years. This compares to just 96 overseas’ sales in 2006.
The venture, known as Shanghai LTI (London Taxis International), was announced by Manganese Bronze last month as a response to uncertain forecasts for the home market amid the current credit-crunch. The company has previously announced that sales in the first quarter of this year were down on the same period in 2007 but offered last years’ release of the new TX4 model as well as the struggling economy as factors in the drop in performance. They maintain that “trading in April has continued in line with our expectations and the Group’s balance sheet remains strong.”
The company also announced plans for a ‘zero emission urban taxi’ which they are currently developing with electric vehicle manufacturer, the Tanfield Group. The TX4E will be battery-powered and early estimates suggest it will cost an additional £5000. Three are to be developed in the next six months and will then be market-tested by Manganese Bronze. They expect a warm welcome for the carbon-friendly cab in the London market as well as in cities with low-emission zones globally.
Manganese Bronze is optimistic that their foreign ventures will provide respite for their problems in the home market. They said: “The Board remains confident of delivering a profit performance at least in line with expectations for the current financial year, with any UK market uncertainty being more than offset by the benefit of lower than expected start-up losses in Shanghai LTI.