West Midland black cab manufacturer Manganese Bronze (MNGS) has been given a major boost by Trade Minister, Lord Jones of Birmingham.
The minister, otherwise known as Digby Jones, has been flying the flag for the Coventry manufacturer while heading a UK trade delegation to Beijing. To create an impression around the streets of the Olympic city the Minister has been travelling in one of the iconic LTI vehicles.
Lord Jones opted for the distinctive cab to promote a deal signed earlier this year for the vehicles to be manufactured in China for sale to the Asian market. By the end of 2008 Chinese company Geely Automobile will be rolling out 20,000 of the vehicles per year.
The cabs will be manufactured at a purpose-built Shanghai factory, a spokesman for UK Trade & Investment said. The spokesman added: “This is very much a joint venture – the factory has an English general manager.
“The London Taxi is an iconic symbol and has obvious practical benefits in that it is accessible for all. This deal is an example of the opportunities there are in China.”
Before full-scale production gets under way, 50 of the cabs will be distributed to taxi firms in Beijing for use at the Paralympics.
The first ten cabs were delivered to taxi companies in Beijing and the Paralympic Organising Committee at a ceremony attended by the Mayor of Beijing, Guo Jinlong in June.
While production levels are being cut at the company’s UK plant at Coventry, advance orders for an international variant of the TXF cab are flooding in.
Initially, MB, which trades as London Taxis International (LTI) had orders for 500 vehicles to be delivered over three years in partnership with Geely. By May this year there were an additional 2,500 orders in the bank.
Since then the firm has signed agreements for over 3,000 additional vehicles, bringing the total number of sales over the next three years to more than 6,000.
Ultimately, the Shanghai operation is expected to deliver a step change in the group’s prospects and financial performance with significant profit contributions for 2009 and onwards.