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Britain’s Last Car Manufacturer – Manganese Bronze Holdings

Updated on December 4, 2012

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.

Geely's London taxi in China
Geely's London taxi in China

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.

London black cabs hit China

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    • IzzyM profile image
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      IzzyM 6 years ago from UK

      Howard, you've got me looking but its hard to tell. I took that quote about Manganese Bronze Holdings from a website that claimed it, and to be honest so many have closed it hard to tell anymore. Anyway, I trust the Independent to publish the truth http://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/analysi...

    • Howard S. profile image

      Howard S. 6 years ago from Dallas, Texas, and Asia

      Something just doesn't sound right about this. You're talking about manufacturer's location, right? Not just ownership. I can't see Morgan going anywhere. Are Lotus, Aston Martin and Rolls Royce really no longer built there? Jaguar is only slightly more plausible, knowing that platforms are shared with Maserati and Ford. Wow!

    • IzzyM profile image
      Author

      IzzyM 6 years ago from UK

      It will if something doesn't change. And it needs to change soon because within a generation all the skills will be lost. As it is our mechanics have become fitters and the old trade of mending has all but died out.

    • LeanMan profile image

      Tony 6 years ago from At the Gemba

      I used to work in the automotive industry in the UK, but left it about 10 years ago as it was almost gone then... It is not just the loss of the car manufacturers that is a blow to the country but all of the suppliers also, many of them have now completely vanished.

      It has been a constant shift of all of our manufacturing whatever the industry overseas to china, and south america etc to save costs and reduce prices.

      But it will end with the UK and the states becoming third world countries...

    • IzzyM profile image
      Author

      IzzyM 6 years ago from UK

      All bought over by foreign companies and moved abroad where labor is cheaper no doubt.

    • profile image

      Sophia Angelique 6 years ago

      Yup. Rolls Royce. Rover. British Leyland. All gone, I think!

    • IzzyM profile image
      Author

      IzzyM 6 years ago from UK

      I vaguely remember all the car plants in Linwood, Scotland but they are long gone. Sad to hear all the English and Welsh plants are gone too. Get in quick and buy a London taxi before they are gone too!

    • tonymac04 profile image

      Tony McGregor 6 years ago from South Africa

      Wow! This is so sad. My folks always insisted on buying British made cars, so we had Morrises, Austins and one Vauxhall. They also had a Humber and a Land Rover at some time! I believe Jaguar is now owned by Tata. Not sure where they will be made. I have always dreamt of owning a Jag - but most likely won't happen!

      Thanks for this interesting Hub.

      Love and peace

      Tony