The iconic London taxi cab is heading for Australia in a trial shipment of vehicles that will be used in a governmental Taxi Action Plan being rolled out in Perth, designed to improve the security standards and availability of taxis in the city.
The ex-demonstrator TX4 models, 98 of which will be put into service within the next three weeks, were originally produced in China at the Geely-owned plant in Beilun and shipped from Wai Gao Qiao port in Shanghai to the Australian port of Fremantle according to the company.
Chinese vehicle maker Geely bought the principal assets and trade of Manganese Bronze Holdings, maker of the London taxi, earlier this year following a period of administration.
Though supplied from China, the sale and shipment was made via The London Taxi Company (LTC) in Coventry, UK. Local Chinese freight forwarder China Star Distribution Center (Shanghai) took the vehicles to the port in Shanghai and they were loaded on a ‘K’ Line vessel for shipment to Australia.
“Trials are also being considered in other states, and should they prove successful we hope to introduce more volume into the market from next year,” said a spokesperson for LTC.
Two hundred new TX4s are already on order for delivery in 2014, most likely to the state of Victoria according to Evan Simeon, CEO of the Australian division of LTC.
“Perth drivers will receive a government-funded package, which in return for vehicle and usage data, will see them reimbursed for the normal weekly licence fee of AUS$200 for the first four years of ownership,” said Simeon.
Perth taxi drivers will be given the option of leasing, leasing to buy or buying the vehicle outright, said the company in a statement.
LTC said that it will support its export market franchises with full aftersales, parts and warranty support.
The latest deal is reported to follow a number of export sales for the LTC. “Sales have never been so good,” said Matthew Cheyne, international sales director for the company. “We’re currently manufacturing vehicles for Saudi Arabia and UAE, and we are expecting orders from Azerbaijan, which already has 1,000 TX4s in-situ.”