The company that makes London’s iconic black cabs is set to call in the receivers.
Manganese Bronze, based in the West Midlands of England , has not made a profit since 2007 and 300 jobs are at risk. The taxis have been a part of British street life since 1948.
The company had been in talks with its largest shareholders, including China’s Geely Automobile, to secure a last-minute bailout.
“The issue here was not a lack of opportunity around the quantum of support being offered,” Chief Executive John Russell
said. “It was around the ability of Manganese Bronze, a company with a very weak balance sheet, to take on the
level of debt required.”
Russell said the company had discussed an injection of “tens of millions” of pounds with parties including the company’s two largest shareholders, Geely and Toscafund Asset Management.
Accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers is set to be appointed as administrator.
Earlier this month, the company had said its financial position was unclear after the discovery of a safety defect in
its new TX4 model that led to a recall of 400 taxis and a halt to sales.
The recall was the latest in a spate of issues that have plagued the taxi maker which coincided with market share gains
by rival Eco City Vehicles’s Mercedes Vito taxi. Japan’s Nissan Motor Co Ltd is also due to launch its own taxi in Britain.
“It’s a great shame, because they (Manganese Bronze) build the best cab in the world, but it’s no surprise. They never
listened to the drivers,” said Michael, driver of a Manganese cab in the capital for 30 years. He pointed to the cost of the
vehicles (at least 37,000 pounds/46,000 euros per car), high maintenance bills and a lack of after sales support.
“They took it for granted, were too complacent, thought we’d always go back to them and buy another cab but the drivers
aren’t doing that anymore.”
The firm sold 1,502 taxis last year, nine percent fewer than in 2010