London Taxi Company Coventry starts work on new factory
Building work has started on a £250m taxi plant outside Coventry.
The London Taxi Company (LTC), which makes the iconic black cab, said the site could create up to 1,400 jobs.
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.
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.
Chief executive of LTC, Peter Johansen, said it was "fantastic" to see diggers and trucks on the site.
He said the new factory would be "very environmentally friendly", using solar panels, harvested rainwater and a system that harvests waste heat from manufacturing to heat its offices.
"We are building a green taxi so we were keen everything should be as environmentally friendly as possible," he said.
"It will be an efficient site but it will still be a hand-built taxi because we are not a high-volume manufacturer. There will still be a lot of craft skills required."
He said minor delays had been caused by the need to rehome 493 newts.
Last year, London Mayor Boris Johnson announced all new taxis operating in the capital would have to be capable of zero emissions from 2018.
London Taxi Company
- 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