The launch of the first new London taxi in four years - and the greenest black cab ever - yesterday helped to drive shares in Manganese Bronze, the UK's biggest remaining car manufacturer, to a near nine-year high.
The company is expecting a flood of orders in the capital for the TX4, which has been designed to comply with the latest environmental regulations; 17,000 black cabs in London do not meet an EU emissions standard that all taxis must meet in less than two years' time.
Manganese Bronze, which is on the road to recovery, unveiled the new cab as it posted an 88 per cent increase in pre-tax profits for the year to 31 July to £3.7m. This included a £1.1m boost from the sale of a surplus site, in Ipswich, which it handed back to shareholders in the form of an additional 1p a share on top of its 3p final dividend.
Shares in the group, which this month signed a deal to make taxis in China, surged 7 per cent to 526.5p.
Tim Melville-Ross, the chairman, said current vehicle sales were ahead of last year when UK taxi sales slipped as drivers waited to learn what form the new emissions regime would take. Manganese Bronze, which is still searching for a new chief executive, has spent £5m on developing the TX4. It hopes to recoup the cost by charging an extra £2,000 for each new cab.
Pre-tax profits, excluding the site sale, rose 29 per cent to £2.5m on revenue down 4 per cent to £83.8m. Since signing its deal with Zhejiang Geely Holding Group, it has dropped plans to enter the Mexican and US markets.