Geely-owned LEVC that make the electrified London black cabs may soon have a rival right at their base in Coventry. The Chinese conglomerate Red Sun Group has reached out to Britain’s Ecotive and CAD CAM Automotive (CCA) to start building hybrid taxis in the UK as well.
Not only will they rival LEVC’s offer on their main market in London but they also want to set up a factory to make up to 300,000 hybrid taxis a year right next to LEVC in Coventry.
The new hybrid cabs would essentially be a re-issue of the MetroCab, a British brand of cabs first introduced in the mid-1980s that was produced until 2006. Since the early 2000s it has been owned by Ecotive, Red Sun’s new partner.
For Red Sun, the choice of location is not necessarily down to the closeness of rivalling LEVC though. Coventry has been a manufacturing base for CCA that also supplies Jaguar Land Rover. Red Sun and CCA merged two years ago and back then promised to invest 300 million pounds over five years. In a statement at the time, CCA said the plan would start with a £50 million investment into new energy vehicle research and development centre.
It is as of yet unknown though, how far the plans for the Coventry cab production or said centre have progressed.
In China however, Red Sun say they will form a joint venture with a Chinese company to build a separate automotive base capable of producing 500,000 electrified units a year.
When asked about the competition, LEVC said they would not be fazed by them too much and will instead continue to build the electric black cab. In turn the Geely-owned company is also looking to set up shop in China (we reported).
In December, the electric Black Cabs by LEVC begun operations in London. The TX5 is designed to drive fully electric, while a 1.5-liter engine supplied by Volvo charges the battery and extends the range to up to 640 kilometres. The new electric model cost cabbies about 55,000 pounds but LEVC CEO Chris Gubbey says it will also save about 100 pounds on average weekly fuel costs.