The black cab is to make its debut in China after a businessman from the country fell in love with the distinctive vehicles on a visit to London.
The TX1 cab is already exported to more than 25 countries, including the United States, Singapore and Japan. Its manufacturer, London-based Manganese Bronze, has sold exclusive rights to make the car in China, Macau, Taiwan and Hong Kong to China's largest maker of petrol engines and light-duty vehicles, Brilliance China Automotive Holdings (BCAH).
Dr Yang Rong, BCAH's chairman, contacted the company after riding in a TX1 on a visit to London. "It provides far better safety, comfort and passenger accessibility than all existing taxi products in the country," he said.
Chinese taxis are usually saloon cars, and Dr Rong was impressed by the contrasting spaciousness of the TX1's interior. But "the knowledge", a cab-driver's instruction in mysterious back-road shortcuts, is harder to replicate.
Ian Pickering, Manganese Bronze's chief executive, said talks with the Chinese company had been under way since the beginning of last year. "This deal is extremely important for us – the Chinese taxi industry is significant and growing," he said.
Production will initially be restricted to Shenyang in the north-east of the country, with the first cars on the streets next year ahead of a planned roll-out nationwide. The vehicle will contain a spruced-up engine but will otherwise be identical to its British counterpart.
Under the terms of the deal, Brilliance China, which in 1992 became the country's first company to float on the New York Stock Exchange, is paying £2.7m and undisclosed royalty payments based on cab sales.
Shares in Manganese Bronze rallied 33 per cent on the London Stock Exchange in response to the deal.Reuse content