TX4 taxi production line in Coventry was shut down when Manganese Bronze went into administration
The production line for London black cabs resumed on Wednesday, six months after the company behind the famous vehicles was rescued by the Chinese Geely Group.
The business secretary, Vince Cable, who was in Coventry to officially restart production of the TX4 black cab said:
"After a period of worry and uncertainty for the workforce, Geely Group's investment has secured the future of the iconic black cabs company, protecting highly skilled jobs in the Midlands and ensuring that London cabs continue to be made here in Britain," he said. "It is also a clear demonstration of the success of the British car industry, which has gone from strength to strength even during tough economic times."
Production of black cabs was halted last autumn when Manganese Bronze was forced to launch an emergency recall after discovering a steering fault that left some drivers "struggling to steer the vehicles correctly".
It was not the first time Manganese had been forced to launch an emergency recall of the TX4 model. In 2008 it called back 5,000 of the early TX4 after some of them caught fire.
But less than two weeks after last year's recall the company went into administration.
Li Shufu, the chairman of Geely, which also owns Volvo, said restarting production had created 66 new jobs. However, 156 workers - including 99 of the 176 employees at the Holyhead Road plant - lost their jobs when Manganese called in administrators.
"Today is a milestone in the history of the London Taxi Company (LTC), but it marks just the beginning of what we believe will be a strong and prosperous future," he said.
"We are pleased to have created dozens of new jobs and have already begun work on the planning and design of the next generation of this iconic vehicle. Thanks to the work of everyone here and everyone that has supported us, LTC has an exciting future ahead of it."
Once fully up and running, the production line will complete about 10 new taxis a day, five days a week. The company expects to export about half of the 2,000 vehicles it will produce in the first year, after winning contracts to supply Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Azerbaijan. Only 900 cabs were produced last year before the production line was shutdown.
Geely has pledged to invest £150m in the London Taxi Company's Coventry factory and developing a new TX5 model over five years. It is also considering expanding production in Coventry and other sites in the UK. More than 130,000 black taxis have been made at the Coventry over the past 60 years.
The company said it is also considering the possibility of transferring the production of some Geely cars from China to the UK in the future.
Peter Johansen, vice president of UK operations for LTC, said: "The financial strength and commitment of Geely provides us opportunities to continue to improve our TX4 taxi and, at the same time, develop the next generation of taxis to take us forward into the 21st century."
A former British success story, Manganese had failed to turn a profit since 2007. The company faced growing competition after cab drivers were in 2008 given permission to use the Mercedes Vito, breaking Manganese's monopoly. Nissan have put on hold plans to launch a London taxi product.
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