Taxi! Chinese Firm Saves British Icon

(c) Sky News 2013

A Chinese company has rescued the maker of Britain's iconic black taxi and intends to sell them around the world.

Privately-owned Chinese carmaker Geely has bought Coventry-based Manganese Bronze in a deal worth £11m.

Geely previously owned a 20% stake in the firm before it collapsed into administration last October.

More than 100 jobs have been saved after Manganese Bronze was brought out of administration by the Chinese firm.

Manganese Bronze nearly crashed after it was forced to recall 500 black cabs due to a steering box fault. This came on top of mounting losses at the group.

Geely pledged to retain the group's 107 staff and existing manufacturing site in Coventry.

But 156 jobs have already been axed since Manganese called in administrators.

Zhejiang Geely Holding Group chairman Li Shufu said the firm has ambitious plans for the business.

Geely said it was confident of being able to create new jobs and plans new taxi models with improved energy efficiency, while it is also looking at launching into the private hire market.

"Despite its recent difficulties, we have long believed that the company and the 'black cab' have huge potential," Mr Li added.

Its London Taxi arm was already suffering amid a consumer spending slowdown and increased rivalry from competitors, such as Eco City vehicles, and Manganese had been loss-making for the past four years.

The group's London Taxi Company division makes about 2,700 cabs a year and has produced more than 100,000 since it started in 1948. Its newest model, the TX4, was launched in October 2006.

While the holding company will be known as Geely UK, the new owner said it will retain the London Taxi International brand.

Manganese Bronze can trace its roots back to the 19th century as a maker of ship propellers and was named after the metal used.

The deal was welcomed by Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London.

He said: "I am delighted that Geely has successfully secured the future of the London Taxi Company, ensuring the continuing manufacture of a world famous, fully accessible and instantly recognisable vehicle synonymous with London."

Business Secretary Vince Cable added: "It's only right that the iconic black cabs will be produced in the UK.

"I'm pleased that workers in the Coventry factory will keep their jobs, thanks to everyone who worked so hard to make this happen."