Chinese corporation Geely will pump £250 million ($A475m) into a new development and assembly facility in England as it gears up for the next-generation London Black Cab due in 2017.
The investment will cover a new purpose-built facility in the Ansty area of Coventry, close to the London Taxi Company’s existing factory. The 85,000 square-metre site will house all of the company’s research, development and assembly operations.
Up to 1000 new jobs will be created through the investment, and the site will eventually have the capacity to assemble up to 36,000 vehicles a year according to company projections.
This would be a ten-fold increase on capacity at the company’s existing site in Holyhead Road, Coventry, which has been home to the London Taxi Company for almost 70 years. London Taxis are also made in China.
The iconic London Taxi is becoming a site on roads around the worlds, including Australia, where rollouts have already begun in Perth and Melbourne. See our recent London Taxi review and video piece here. Note: Our market’s version is made in China.
Geely’s commitment to the London Taxi Company is the largest ‘greenfield’ investment in the UK by a Chinese company, and is being backed with funding from the UK government’s Regional Growth Fund and other UK and local government support.
The next generation London Black Cab will be an ultra-low emissions vehicle designed to comply with new regulations being introduced by the Mayor of London that will reduce the level of emissions allowed from new taxis from January 2018.
The new vehicle will be developed using significantly increased UK and EU content, bringing economic benefits through the supply chain, the company claims. It will be launched in the UK at the end of 2017 and across international markets in 2018.
Geel pulled the UK business out of administration in 2013, and has invested significantly to restart production and fund the development of the successor to the existing taxi, called the TX4.
Production of the London Taxi began in 1948, and more than 130,000 vehicles have rolled off the assembly lines since.
“Geely’s £250 million investment and the creation of up to 1000 jobs is great news for Coventry and a vote of confidence in our long-term economic plan to back business, create jobs and secure the recovery,” said Prime Minister David Cameron, seemingly claiming a share of the credit.
“The London Black Cab is iconic around the world and I am pleased that the next generation will have a state of the art production facility in the UK.”
London mayor Boris Johnson added: “The production of zero emission capable vehicles, incorporating the latest state of the art technology, is essential as we strive to create the greenest taxi fleet in the world for London.
“The vehicles this facility produces will help transform London's taxi fleet, boost jobs and growth in London and the West Midlands, and secure the long-term future of the taxi industry, whilst ensuring everyone who lives, work in or visits our city has the cleanest possible air to breathe.”
Zhejiang Geely Holding Group founder and chairman Li Shufu said: “This investment will secure the future of London Taxi Company. Almost two years after we acquired this company – in which we first took a stake in 2006 – it has become an important part of our global automotive strategy.
“Today’s announcement symbolises the close business links between China and the UK, which is an attractive market for Chinese inward investment.
“The London Taxi expansion will demonstrate the benefits of Anglo-Chinese partnerships, showing how we can harness our resources, industrial know-how and technology to produce an environmentally-friendly next generation London Black Cab that China and the UK will be proud of, and which can be a world-beater in export markets.”
Geely is perhaps best known in Australia as the owner of Swedish-based luxury brand Volvo, which it has owned since 2010.