Biggest Wholly Owned British Car Manufacturer To Appoint Administrators
When you think of London, its Tower Bridge, Buckingham Palace, the majestic River Thames, but go outside of the sites and it’s the red double decker busses and black London taxi cabs that come to mind next. Well, it seems as if a bit of that picture is in problems, following an announcement by the main producer of these black taxi cabs is going out of business and is to appoint receivers.
Manganese Bronze Holdings Ltd are the people that make the famous and iconic black London Taxi Cab the TX4 and more than 100,000 of them have rolled off the production line in Coventry since 1948 and whilst maybe this is a damming indictment into the state of the British motor industry but until the announcement of their difficulties this week, Manganese Bronze were the largest wholly British owned car manufacturer in the UK producing around 2,700 vehicles a year.
Seems that securing funding going forward has been the difficulty for the company and they have announced that discussions with various parties to secure funding on acceptable terms to address the Group’s financial needs have proved unsuccessful. The Board has therefore concluded that the Group is no longer a going concern and has filed notice of intention to appoint administrators
On 12 October 2012, the cash strapped company announced a recall relating to the discovery of a steering box on around 400 vehicles and whilst by major manufacturer standards, this would hardly cause a raised eyebrow, the cost of the rectifying the issues causing the recall is going to cost money that Manganese Bronze can hardly afford. They are however, and in spite of the pending administration, making the steering box fault a priority and things will be put right.
Manganese Bronze Holdings Ltd is partly owned by Chinese car maker Geely Automobile Holdings Ltd who themselves manufacturer around 300,000 vehicles a year and a deal was done in December 2011 where Manganese was to act as the UK distributor for the Geely Auto UK franchise and it was hoped that it could be launched this year, with around 40 UK dealers and so quite what this means for Geely plans, no one is certain, although, if you were a gambling man, you’ve got to think that Geely needs a distributor in the UK and that the iconic black London cab has still got potential as a business going forward, so what does that suggest?
Before we depart, just a little bit about the present TX4.
The latest model is the TX4, launched in Oct 2006, which features a Euro IV-compliant VM Motori R 425 DOHC diesel engine. The TX4 retains the distinctive appearance and all the key safety and accessibility features of its predecessor, the TXII. The TX4 has an abundance of new features such as driver and passenger head restraints, anti-locking brakes, a new retro exterior and enhanced interior styling.
The TX4 is:
- Safe and secure for drivers and passengers
- Recognisable as a taxi
- Accessible for all passengers
- Durable and reliable
OK, we all know the vehicle and most of us have travelled in one and because they tend to go on forever, there are some pretty old ones around and whilst it’s a strong product with a world wide reputation, in other countries and cities like New York, the older style cabs they used are being replaced with today’s version of a TX4 is and that’s a purpose built cab, built for today, not an evolution of a 65 year old design.
New York, famous for its bright yellow Ford Crown Victoria taxi cabs with the black & white chequered stripes which for years have wallowed along in the shadow of the sky scrapers producing an iconic image of that amazing city are being replaced with all new Nissans! Based upon the NV200 vans and initially with eco-friendly diesel engines, then later with electric engines, these converted vans offer so much more in terms of usability and for example, they’ve got sliding rear doors, not ones you have to open into traffic like on the TX4.
In conclusion, its sad to see Manganese get into this trouble and you have to think that somehow they will be bailed out, but long term, unless they evolve to a much greater extent than they have in the last 50 years or so, they just aint gonna survive!