London Taxi Company Letter of Thanks & Looking Ahead

Last month, our parent company Geely announced that it was investing £250 million to build a new factory at Ansty, near Coventry, to put into production the next generation of the iconic London Black Cab. The new TX5 will be a plug-in, range extended electric hybrid vehicle and will be available before 1st January 2018 in order to meet the requirements set by The Mayor of London for all new taxis to be Zero-Emissions Capable (“ZEC”) by that date.

Geely would not have had the confidence to make this investment had it not been for the strong support that we have received from the Licensed Hackney Carriage Trade.  Last year we sold more TX4’s in London than in any year since its launch in 2007.   The Chairman of Geely, Li Shufu, has asked me to send you his personal thanks for the confidence and loyalty that you have shown in the iconic London Black Cab.  In recognition of this loyalty, he has decided that everyone who has purchased a new TX4 since Geely acquired The London Taxi Company (“LTC”) in February 2013 should receive a voucher which will entitle them to £1000 off the price of a new TX5.  Furthermore, this offer will extend to anyone who buys a new TX4 between now and the TX5 launch date in 2017.  This is our way of saying a big thank you for supporting us. 

Two years ago, I set out the priorities for LTC to put customers first in everything we do, focus on improving the quality of our goods and services and, if we achieve these objectives, then we will have created a sustainable, profitable business.  This strategy has proved successful and customers realise that we are treating them as the most important aspect of our business. I am delighted to announce that LTC has made significant progress in 2014 towards its aim of becoming a sustainable, profitable business.  In 2014 we made a £1.2m trading profit before tax and other deductions and the UK group has a net worth in excess of £25 million.

The build quality of our current TX4 is the best it has even been with improved handling, electronic stability control, greater ride comfort and lower noise levels.  If you don’t believe me, pop in for a test drive and see for yourself; I promise you that you will not be disappointed.  In recognition of this improvement in quality, we have increased the comprehensive manufacturer’s standard three year warranty from 100,000 to 120,000 miles to give you more peace of mind; another example of putting our customers first.

The mission of The London Taxi Company is to support the provision of safe, accessible, durable and professional taxi services throughout the world and our vision is to see the iconic London Black Cab on the streets of major cities in the world.  London should be rightly proud that it is recognised as having the best taxi service in the world.  This accolade is derived from a combination of the quality of the London Cabbies with their famous “Knowledge”, the iconic London Black Cab itself, and stringent consistent regulation from Transport for London (“TfL”).  If any of these three elements were missing, the crown would swiftly slip from London’s head.

We live in a rapidly changing world and one thing is for certain, the world will continue to change and we must all adapt to the new challenges that this will bring.  We must protect and expand the loyal and passionate base of customers that our trade relies upon by continuing to move with customer tastes and adapting to their changing demands. The private hire trade continues to expand unchecked both in London and the Regions and the Licensed Hackney Carriage Trade needs to unite and find a way to respond by using technology to attract more business; a dedicated national “Black Cab Only App” for smartphones might be the way forward.

As an industry, the Licensed Hackney Carriage Trade faces many threats to its livelihood, but there are also opportunities that should not be missed and we must face up to these challenges together and speak with one voice to government and the public.  This is the only way to ensure that the licensed taxi trade is shaping its own future, rather than having it shaped for us. In the coming year, I intend to work closely with the LTDA, LCDC, Unite and RMT unions, The Worshipful Company of Hackney Carriage Drivers and other similar groups to formulate a cohesive consensus of opinion to drive forward those issues that directly affect our industry both in London and in the Regions.  

The uncertainty over taxi age limits and how the Ultra-Low Emission Zone (“ULEZ”) will operate in London is adversely affecting confidence in the future. In our submissions to the ULEZ consultation, and in subsequent representations to TfL, we have strongly opposed a ten year age limit under any circumstances and said that we would not accept any changes to the age limit without meaningful compensation for every owner affected. We put forward an alternative proposal of a 15 year age limit for Euro 6 taxis and a 12 year limit for older vehicles but we do not know if this proposal will be acceptable to TfL.  It is our view that the debate on age limits misses the key point because the best way to improve air quality is to encourage drivers into new ZEC vehicles. That’s why I’m pleased to say that LTC has lead a successful campaign on taxi grants which has resulted in the government more than doubling the funding available to drivers who want to invest in a ZEC taxis when they become available in 2017, with an additional £25 million specifically earmarked for London drivers.

Unfortunately, until TfL announce their final decision later this year over taxi age limits and ULEZ, there will continue to be unhelpful uncertainty over these important changes.  However, there is already a way for taxi owners to protect their investment now, ahead of any pronouncement on age limits or changes to emissions rules.  There is currently a shortage of second hand taxis in London and consequently the value of these vehicles is at an all-time high.  This means that there has never been a better time to trade in your vehicle, cash in on the equity that you have in it, and enter into a £145 per week Personal Contract Purchase (“PCP”) to buy a cleaner, greener new TX4.  This PCP deal will give you a guaranteed future value for your new TX4 that protects your investment regardless of any change to the age limits.  What’s more, you will also receive a voucher worth £1000 off the price of a new TX5.  Don’t delay, visit Brewery Road today!

We are already getting enquiries from taxi drivers who want to put their name down for the new TX5.  In order to be fair to everyone, we are launching our “Get to the Front of the Rank Campaign”.  We anticipate that there will be an unprecedented demand for the new TX5 when it becomes available in late 2017 so those drivers who have bought a new TX4 since February 2013 will have the first opportunity to buy a new TX5.  We are creating a “virtual taxi rank” based on when you have bought your new TX4; those that bought one in February 2013 will be served first with others ranked by the date of delivery.  So don’t be the last cabbie in the rank; buy a new TX4 today to reserve your space in the TX5 virtual taxi rank.  

Thank you once again for your continued loyalty and support.

Peter Johansen
Executive Vice-President
The London Taxi Company