The first London taxis built in Shanghai have been introduced to drivers and passengers in Saudi Arabia.
The news marks the first step in the drive by Coventry-based manufacturer London Taxis International (LTI) to turn the company into a global brand.
Cars for Far Eastern markets are being produced in Shanghai by a joint venture operation between LTI and Chinese automotive group Geeley.
The cars ordered for Saudi Arabia will operate as the London Taxi Service from the Four Seasons hotel, where ten of the famous black cabs will be carrying guests to the airport, major tourist attractions and conference venues.
Further orders have also been received for 28 more taxis for Saudi Arabia as they prove so popular with passengers and drivers.
The London Taxi has been specially adapted to cope with the hotter climate. Built with a higher specification of air conditioning, tinted windows and parts that allow for expansion in the heat as well as able to cope with the desert dust, the taxi was chosen to move customers about rather than use more traditional saloon taxis.
Matthew Cheyne, international market development director for LTI, said: “Our TX4 model is generating a lot of interest from international businesses, passengers and operators. Enquiries are increasing and drivers and passengers are telling us that the London Taxi is providing them with a first class ride and experience.
“Shanghai LTI, our Chinese joint venture with Geely, is quickly transforming us into a global brand as we expand our operation and take our iconic product into countries such as Bahrain, Poland and Dubai.”
As part of the joint venture, Geely has established a new factory unit at its Shanghai site where Chinese employees have been trained by their Coventry counterparts.
“Geely is a very fast moving, highly entrepreneurial business with proven product development and production capabilities,” Mr Cheyne said.
“The venture will also bring benefits to our UK operation by allowing us to take advantage of more cost-effective components for our current range.
“This will help us to maintain our price competitiveness and generate profits to invest in the business,” Mr Cheyne concluded.
As the UK’s largest British-owned automotive manufacturer, LTI employs 450 people at its Coventry manufacturing plant and wholly-owned Mann & Overton dealerships in Birmingham, London and Manchester.