Ambitious Geely, which makes no secret of its eventual plans to expand globally using some of its home country's cheapest-made cars, may start exports with Hong Kong -- bringing a common London sight to the former British colony more than a decade after it reverted to Chinese rule.
"We estimate the production cost can be lowered at least by half," Geely Executive Director Lawrence Ang told reporters on Monday after showing the firms' newest London cab to pre-selected Hong Kong taxi drivers.
Prices had not been finalised but Ang said U.K.-made models sold at nearly 40,000 pounds ($79,350). Geely and Manganese have set up a joint venture in Shanghai that can crank out 10,000 of the cabs a year in about a dozen colours apart from the familiar black, tailored to specific markets and customer demand, and another 30,000 intended for private limousine or sedan use.
It will eventually serve as a global base for production and export to Southeast Asia and, eventually, other regions.
Manganese's U.K. production arm, London Taxi International Plc (LTI), will also benefit in terms of securing cheap Chinese parts, said Matthew Cheyne, LTI's international marketing director.
""From the U.K. point of view, the benefit is we got cost of production saving of 50 percent, 40 percent, whatever it is, sourcing cheap parts in China and that's enough for our benefit," he said.
LTI sold about 2,850 taxis in the United Kingdom last year and exported a very small number of the cabs to overseas markets, such as South Africa, France and Germany.