Londoners living in major Chinese cities may find themselves feeling a little more at home in the near future. Geely Automobile Holdings, a Hangzhou-based budget car maker, plans to manufacture and sell about 1,000 of London’s iconic black cabs throughout China by the end of the year.
While mostly intended for the personal use of the wealthy, the nostalgic London cabs have been in operation in Beijing since before the Olympics. Painted in traditional Beijing taxicab colors (pictured), the cabs have been used primarily for aiding the disabled and infirm; however, the spacious and comfortable cabs have proven popular among natives and visitors alike.
The cabs officially hit the market last week, but it may be a while before we actually see the cabs out on the streets. Nonetheless, Geely is in talks with several cities – including Lanzhou and Chengdu – and hopes to have the London-style cabs in operation in these cities by the end of the year (no word about whether they’ll be coming to Shanghai, but we hope so!).
Geely, normally known for making cars at economical prices, will begin manufacturing the iconic cars after entering into a deal with British car manufacturer Manganese Bronze Holdings PLC. Manganese Bronze has produced over 100,000 of the unique cars in England since 1948, but in response to high manufacturing costs limiting the company’s foreign market penetration, the company turned to Geely in 2006 to produce the iconic cars at a lower cost.
As part of the deal, Geely will also produce more than 90 percent of the parts used in the actual London taxis. The high-profile deal is the second time that Geely has attracted attention within the past few days, as rumors have been flying that the company may buy the Volvo brand from Ford.
Although the cabs are making their Chinese debut, China is not the first place outside of London to receive the London cab treatment. A few of the cabs are already in operation in several cities in the US, as well as in a select few cities worldwide. However, the Geely/Manganese Bronze deal marks the first time that the cabs will be manufactured on a large scale outside of the UK.
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Photo by myuibe.