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£300m Coventry plant to manufacture electric London black taxis

A £300 million factory has opened to build a new electric London black taxi and an electric van.

The site in Ansty, Coventry, is the first vehicle manufacturing facility to be built in Britain for more than a decade.

The London Taxi Company faced administration in 2013 before China's Zhejing Geely Holding Group stepped in to rescue the firm.

More than 1,000 jobs, including 200 engineers and 30 apprenticeships, have been created by the opening of the plant.

The new electric taxi will go on sale in London towards the end of 2017 and then around the world in early 2018, while the company also announced that a second vehicle will also be built - an electric light commercial van.

London Taxi Company chairman Carl-Peter Forster said: "The opening of our new plant sets a number of records: it's the first brand new automotive manufacturing facility in Britain for over a decade, the first dedicated electric vehicle factory in the UK and the first major Chinese investment in UK automotive."

The company said the new van will help fleet owners lower their running costs, improve air quality and support cities in tackling the pollution crisis in urban areas.

Chief executive Chris Gubbey said: "This is going to be the future-proofed 'white van' that people have been waiting for.

"Designed solely for the urban commercial sector, dedicated to the people who keep our cities working, it will be clean, competitive and ready for cities of the future.

"The air quality crisis in many urban environments has highlighted the scale of the opportunity and demand for zero emissions capable commercial vehicles in major cities across the world.

"Electrification is a key component of the global strategy to reduce emissions and the London Taxi Company is determined to apply its expertise in advanced electric vehicle technology, and the taxi market, to urban commercial vehicles. "

Unite union regional officer Peter Coulson said: "This a fantastic story of a company that was on its knees in 2013."

John Sauven, executive director of Greenpeace UK, said: "Black cabs have a bad reputation for belching out dirty diesel fumes.

"This isn't the fault of the cab drivers but the cab manufacturers. Today, all that is about to change."

AA president Edmund King said: "After some of the misinformation and conflicting fiscal incentives for diesel vehicles, it is good to see the Government putting their money where their mouth is by supporting the new electric taxi plant in Coventry with £64 million of funding."

Business Secretary Greg Clark said: "Our iconic black cabs are famous across the world.

"The London Taxi Company's impressive new factory and R&D facility showcases the innovation that makes the UK a world leader in the development of new automotive technologies."

The Business Department is investing £16.1 million of regional growth fund money and the Department for Transport has announced a further £64 million of investment to promote the use of electric taxis.

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