- Auto Industry
Britain’s Last Car Manufacturer – Manganese Bronze Holdings
I couldn’t believe it when I read that Manganese Bronze Holdings was Britain’s last car manufacturer. What a shocker! Britain used to produce cars right left and centre and now it is down to just one plant – producing taxis. Specifically, they produce London taxis.
Based in Coventry, Manganese Bronze Holdings produce the London taxi under its division company, London Taxis, formerly London taxis International in conjunction with Mann & Overton who they also own as part of their group.
London taxis are very expensive to buy – they cost in the range of £30,000 + each, and when you consider that they can expect to sell maybe 2000 new taxis a year, and that each taxi is designed to last for at least 20 years, it is not surprising that the parent company would find themselves losing money after a time.
Pressure has been brought to bear by the EC and other ‘green’ bodies to produce taxis that are not only capable of carrying up to 6 people plus their luggage, but be wheelchair accessible too while using as little fuel as possible.
To this end, Manganese Bronze Holdings have come through brilliantly with their new TX4 taxi, but at what cost?
Workers have been laid off at their Coventry plant and the company has had to sell off some of their assets to pay for the improvements in their vehicles.
Even worse, they have had to accept the help of a foreign company, Chinese holding group Zhejiang Geely Holding Group, who now own a 20% stake.
Production of the London taxi is being moved bit by bit to the Chinese plant, and it is only a matter of time before Britain has no motor manufacturer left.
One advantage of moving production to China where labor and parts are cheaper is that the actual taxi costs have been lowered. This has been especially welcomed by taxi drivers who saw a near on annual rise of at least £1000 each time they renewed their taxi cabs.
The new lower costs are also opening up the world to the advantages of driving custom-built taxi cabs and sales of the TX4 are now starting to take off in many countries throughout the world.
Bahrain now has 400 London cabs. Manganese concluded a 1,000-cab deal with Azerbaijan. Orders are coming in from Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Kuwait, France, Italy, Turkey and South America.
London’s Public Carriage Office recently introduced a ban on all taxis over 15 years old, and this in turn will result in the sale of yet more new taxis which should hopefully keep Manganese Bronze Holdings afloat for a few more years yet, even if the Coventry plant is only left with fitters, their main work having already gone to China.