Coventry & Warwickshire

London Taxi Company's new Ansty Park plant opens in Coventry

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Media captionGreen black cabs to roll off new £300m production line

A black cab manufacturer that was "on its knees" five years ago is officially opening a new £300m plant, creating more than 1,000 jobs.

The London Taxi Company's (LTC) Ansty Park site in Coventry is the home of its new electric taxi, the TX5.

Administrators were called into LTC in 2012 before Chinese carmaker Geely bought the business the following year.

LTC Chairman Carl-Peter Forster said the company was "extremely proud of what we have achieved".

The company, which now employs up to 1,500 people, has invested millions in the TX5 after manufacturing the black cab in the UK for 69 years.

London's new black cab secretly tested in Arctic Circle

The first electric taxis to roll off the production line will go on sale in London in the final quarter of the year, before being sold around the world early in 2018.

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Media captionWhy are black cabs being tested in the Arctic Circle?

Unite union regional officer Peter Coulson said: "This a fantastic story of a company that was on its knees in 2013.

"Now, thanks to the commitment of Geely's top management and accompanying large-scale investment, the iconic London taxi is set for its continued renaissance."

LTC chairman Mr Forster said: "The opening of our new plant sets a number of records: it's the first brand new automotive manufacturing facility in Britain for over a decade, the first dedicated electric vehicle factory in the UK, and the first major Chinese investment in UK automotive.

"We are extremely proud of what we have achieved today, and we have firmly put our stake in the ground as a new, global automotive leader in urban commercial vehicles."

Image copyright London Taxi Company
Image caption The new electric taxi will roll off the production line at Ansty Park later this year
Image copyright London Taxi Company
Image caption The site has the capacity to build more than 20,000 vehicles each year

Analysis: Peter Plisner, BBC Midlands Today transport correspondent

It has been described as one of the great comeback stories in UK manufacturing history - and that is exactly what it is.

Back in 2013 London Taxis International was on its knees and looking for a new owner.

Then Chinese firm Geely came to the rescue and almost immediately announced plans to build a new factory - but not only that, it revealed plans to make electric vehicles and employ more than 1,000 people.

It is the first all-new car factory in the Midlands since 2003, when Aston Martin opened its state-of-the-art plant at Gaydon in Warwickshire. That was on a much smaller scale, though.

It is also one of the biggest single Chinese investments in the region and it shows that the West Midlands continues to lead the way when it comes to both automotive research and development and production.

Image copyright London Taxi Company
Image caption The TX5 has been tested in the Arctic

LTC, previously known as LTI, started life in the 1920s, producing car bodies for Jaguar, Rolls Royce and Bentley.

It will retain its existing Holyhead Road premises in Coventry as a paint shop once the production of the existing TX4 taxi ends in the summer.

Read more news for Coventry and Warwickshire

Staff have moved into the Ansty Park plant this month ahead of Wednesday's official lunchtime opening, involving company representatives.

The new site will house a research and development centre for the electric vehicle, with engineers accounting for 200 of the newly-created jobs.

The company also announced that a second vehicle will also be built - an electric light commercial van.

AA president Edmund King said: "After some of the misinformation and conflicting fiscal incentives for diesel vehicles, it is good to see the Government putting their money where their mouth is by supporting the new electric taxi plant in Coventry with £64 million of funding."

The Business Department is investing £16.1m of regional growth fund money and the Department for Transport has announced a further £64m of investment to promote the use of electric taxis.

Business Secretary Greg Clark said the LTC's "impressive new factory and R&D facility showcases the innovation that makes the UK a world leader in the development of new automotive technologies".

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