Coventry & Warwickshire

London Taxi Company Coventry plant to create 1,000 jobs

Taxi being made
Image caption LTC expects production to increase to 36,000 vehicles a year

A £250m taxi plant is to be built outside Coventry, creating up to 1,000 new jobs.

The plans have been revealed by the owner of the London Taxi Company (LTC), which makes the iconic black cab.

Chinese manufacturer Geely said the new factory would include research and development and an assembly plant to build the next generation of electric and low-emission vehicles.

The first cars are expected to be made at the Ansty Park site in 2017.

It is thought to be the biggest investment of its type by a Chinese company in the UK and was backed with funding from the government's Regional Growth Fund.

The news comes on top of an announcement on Wednesday by Jaguar Land Rover to double the size of its base in Whitley.

LTC, which was bought by Geely in 2012 in a £11.4m deal, currently makes just under 2,000 vehicles a year. It aims to increase production to about 36,000.

The firm has been based in Coventry for nearly 70 years, but in January it announced plans to move from its plant in Holyhead Road to Ansty Park.

Work on the new site is due to begin later this year.

Analysis

Peter Plisner - BBC Midlands Today business correspondent

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Production resumed at LTC in 2013, after its previous owners Manganese Bronze went into administration

What a difference three years can make.

After going bust back in 2012 the company, now under Chinese ownership, is going from strength to strength.

Crucial to the success of any automotive company are new models and today's announcement promises just that.

The new factory will build a new hybrid vehicle, something that is badly needed in places like London.

Mayor Boris Johnson wants to see more low emission vehicles in the capital and lorries and taxis are high on his list.

Unite assistant general secretary Tony Burke said the union's members who were employed by LTC worked hard to ensure production remained in Coventry.

"The decision to invest in a new plant is testament to that campaign and the skills and dedication of the workforce who have worked tirelessly to turn the firm around.

"Not only is it good news for the area, but it is another ringing endorsement of the UK automotive industry and the skills of our members," Mr Burke said.

'Past sell-by date'

Mark Pawsey, Conservative MP for Rugby, said it was "good news for employment in the West Midlands".

"The MTC (Manufacturing Technology Centre) is also based in Ansty, with about 50 companies having a presence there doing research and development, so it ties in well with the LTC move," he said.

"It also demonstrates a wider confidence in British manufacturing, especially with the Jaguar announcement yesterday."

Peter Johansen, executive vice president for LTC's UK operation, said the current plant, home to 240 staff, was "past its sell by date".

"You need to have modern premises these days to build modern vehicles," he said.

"We're going to embrace modern technologies, lightweight structures, very much drawn from the aircraft industry."

Electric taxi

Mr Johansen said the investment was expected to lead to about 500 new jobs in the supply chain and LTC was also working with local universities to develop the skills needed in the industry.

Geely has previously pledged an £80m investment in the research and production of its new TX5 model, initially with a hybrid engine, but expects to launch an electric version in 2018.

It follows new rules on emission levels set by Europe.

Last year, London Mayor Boris Johnson announced all new taxis operating in the capital would have to be capable of zero emissions from 2018.

Phil Davis, from the Worshipful Company of Hackney Carriage Drivers, said it was important to produce a new version of the "iconic" taxi that meets the new regulations.

London Taxi Company

Image copyright Google
Image caption LTC currently employs some 240 staff at its Holyhead Road plant
  • The firm has been producing taxis in Coventry for the last 70 years
  • In October 2012, then owner Manganese Bronze stops production and recalls some of its TX4 model after problems with the vehicles' power steering
  • In the same month, the firm calls in administrators after four years of losses
  • Chinese car maker Geely, a partner of the firm since 2006, buys LTC for £11.4m in February 2013
  • Full-scale production of the TX4 model restarts in September 2013
  • A month later, a deal is signed to export almost 100 vehicles to Australia

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