[photopress:Londoncabs.jpeg,full,alignright]Within a few years, parked outside most major hotels in China, will be London cabs. But there will be three major differences. They will be made in China. They probably will not be black. The drivers will not have passed ‘The Knowledge’ and may not know where you want to go.
The taxis will be made in Shanghai starting in 2008 under an agreement signed by Manganese Bronze, the cars’ manufacturer, and Geely Holding Group of China. The contract is valued at $100 million. The model built will be a version of the TXII introduced in 2002. It features an integral, fold-down ramp for wheelchairs. It also has an intermediate step and swivel-out seat for passengers with moderate walking difficulties. For people with hearing problems it has an induction loop incorporated in the intercom system.
The rules for these cabs in London are tough. Drivers have to pass a test of London’s streets called ‘the Knowledge’. This will not apply in China.
London taxis are also required to have a 25-foot, or 7.6-meter, turning circle, a roof high enough to accommodate a passenger wearing a bowler hat, and an entrance no higher than 15 inches from the ground.
Manganese Bronze is reducing costs and trying to sell the taxis beyond Britain, where it has made more than 100,000 since 1948. About 1 million taxis and limousines are sold a year in China, according to Manganese Bronze, which will also keep building the vehicles at its factory in Coventry, England.
Geely, the biggest privately owned carmaker in China, will sell the cars in Asia, and Manganese Bronze will sell them in the rest of the world.
Source: International Herald Tribune