Manganese Bronze, the black cab maker, plans to counter flagging cab sales with the launch of a new taxi-hailing service.
The company will invest £8m this year in developing "Zingo", a service to help passengers hail the nearest cab using their mobile phones. The move marks a step on Manganese Bronze's transition from manufacturing cabs to supplying them with products and services.
Ian Pickering, the chief executive, said: "We hope to launch Zingo next spring. As a more efficient way of hailing a taxi than standing on the street with your arm, we hope it will be well accepted by passengers and that taxi drivers will see it as a way of boosting their income."
Manganese Bronze will charge cab drivers a subscription fee to use Zingo. It will also receive a proportion of the booking fee and of the mobile call charge. It has signed an agreement "with a major mobile network operator" to enable the system to locate mobile phones.
Manganese Bronze shares yesterday dived 5.2 per cent to 72.5p after it reported a pre-tax loss for the year to 31 July of £1m from a £4.75m profit last year. Sales slipped 12 per cent to £115m as sales of new taxis fell by 24 per cent.