‘Where to guv?’
‘Holyhead Road, Coventry’
‘That where this cab was made! You work for LTI?’
‘Sorry driver, no – Pricewaterhouse Cooper…’
If the hypothetical conversation above sounds familiar, that’s because it is. Rewind to 8 April 2005, and MG Rover calling in Pricewaterhouse Cooper (PwC). We all know how that saga ended – will Manganeee Bronze (London Taxi International’s parent company) fall prey to an equally undignified end? Chinese Mega-conglomerate Geely already owns a 20% stake of the ailing TX4 manufacturer, but reportedly had refused to release further funding.
The recent temporary cessation of TX4 manufacture due to an unspecified steering fault (and recall of 440 TX4s subsequently built) has potentially tipped Manganese Bronze over the fiscal edge. Shareholder Geely had introduced a new Chinese supplier of steering components in Febuary 2012. Since this introduction only two cases were reported of ‘Peculiar steering characteristics’, according to Chief executive John Russell who added ‘in extreme cases, it could affect the ability to steer the steering wheel. It became clear we have a safety risk there.’
On 12 October, the net result of this product recall happened to be pretty drastic – the company’s London stock exchange share suspension at 0.10p per single share. Ten days later Manganese Bronze issued the following statement:
‘Notice of intention to appoint administrators
22nd October 2012
Manganese Bronze Holdings PLC (the “Group”), the manufacturer of the world famous London taxi, today announces 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.
A speedy resolution of the product recall announced on 12 October 2012 relating to the discovery of a steering box fault remains the top priority for the Group and will continue to do so throughout the administration process.
The Board remains hopeful that the fundamental strengths of the company, the TX4 model and its global reputation will provide the platform for a successful business in the future. A further announcement will be made in due course.’
With approximately 300 jobs at stake in Coventry alone, Pricewaterhouse Coopers will hopefully find a suitor for the ailing manufacturer of the world’s only purpose-built Taxi. With rival Mercedes-Benz able to sell you a Taxi meeting the conditions of service today, and Nissan Taxi spotted testing in the capital is the end nigh?
Metro Cammell’s glassfibre ‘Metro Cab’ is today a dead end (though its spiritual successor exists). Even the mighty Checker cab co declared bankruptcy in 2009, 27 years after it built America’s last purpose built Taxi.
Here at AROnline we hope answer (resulting in the restart of production) can be found soon, before another fragment of our ‘firm’ vanishes for ever.
[Source: Autoblog UK]