London's black cabs en route to streets of Pakistan
By Tosin Sulaiman
MANGANESE BRONZE is in talks that could lead to traditional London taxis rolling along the streets of Pakistan by the end of the year.
The maker of black cabs confirmed that it would be ready to start shipping its cabs to Pakistan within months after a series of talks with Prime Transport, a listed Karachi-based company. The vehicles are manufactured by a Manganese Bronze subsidiary, London Taxis International, which became the largest UK-owned carmaker after the demise of MG Rover last year.
Pakistan’s Government has given Prime Transport permission to import the first 300 taxis duty-free, Dawood Khan, its chief executive, told The Times. The company also wants to start building an assembly plant on a 300-acre site in Karachi in January and plans to produce up to 4,000 black cabs in Pakistan each year.
“We are very anxious to get this started,” he said. “We want to begin operation in December. That means we will be importing the complete built-up taxis from the UK.
“Early next year we should start building the assembly line in Karachi. We anticipate that we will be producing around 3,500 to 4,000 vehicles a year in Pakistan for the Pakistani market.”
The cabs, which Prime Transport plans to sell to taxi firms rather than individuals, initially will operate in Karachi, Islamabad and Lahore, Mr Khan said. They will carry passengers to and from Pakistan’s leading international airports, where parking spaces and booking offices have been provided for them.
A spokesman for Manganese Bronze confirmed that the company was in talks with Prime Transport and had received an order for 300 taxis.
“Prime Transport continues to talk to Manganese Bronze and remains keen to do a deal. Manganese Bronze would be delighted to export taxis to Pakistan,” he said, adding that this could take place by the end of the year.
However, the spokesman said that Manganese would direct most of its efforts towards China after signing a £53 million deal this month with Zhejiang Geely, the Chinese car manufacturer, to produce 20,000 taxis a year for the Asian market.
“The focus of attention is very much on China right now,” he said.
Investors will be looking for further signs of recovery at Manganese Bronze when its full-year results are published on Wednesday. A consensus of analysts is predicting pre-tax profits to come in at £2.5 million, compared with £2.3 million last year.
There are about 21,000 black cabs in London made by Manganese and thousands more across the UK, as well as small numbers around the rest of the world, in countries such as the United States, Spain and South Africa.
Last year, Manganese sold 2,412 black cabs, with prices ranging between £22,000 and £30,000, although special edition cars can sell for much more.
RANK AND FILE
93 per cent of London’s black cabs are manufactured by Manganese Bronze
Its closest rival is Metrocab, in Tamworth
Manganese Bronze makes 2,500 taxis in Coventry each year
Since 1948 the company has produced 100,000 black cabs
About 90 per cent of sales are in the UK
Manganese has exported cabs to South Africa, Nigeria, Canada, Germany and America