If you’re in London, get used to this car. You’ll be seeing plenty of them around.
The London Taxi Company, now owned by Chinese manufacturer and current Volvo parent company, just unveiled their new TX5 taxi-cab. Geely will invest $460 million in the UK by building a factory to put the zero-emission capable TX5 cabs on the market by 2017.
Everybody seems to be busy lobbying their way through politics to come up with the next generation of Hackney Carriages from major players like Nissan to engineering groups like Frazer-Nash, but Geely might just be one step ahead of the competition already with the cheerfully retro TX5.
The TX5 is built around an aluminum body structure wrapped in composite panels to seat six passengers with enough space in the cabin for a forward facing wheelchair as well. The motor’s a plug-in hybrid affair with 30 miles of all-electric range and a four-cylinder gasoline engine to back it up.
The driver also gets more legroom while WiFi and numerous charging points come as standard. The rear-hinged door also makes a comeback for easier access, and there’s even a panoramic roof for the complete minivan experience.
After purchasing London Taxis International, makers of the classic TX4 cabs two years ago, Geely gave the task of creating a worthy successor to British designers Peter Horbury and David Ancona at Geely’s studio in Barcelona, who were supported by 200 engineers and designers based in the UK.
This team will soon have a bigger place to fill since Geely is building a 400,000-square yard production facility in Antsy with an integrated R&D department and plenty of office space in order to launch the TX5 in the UK by 2017, and globally as well the following year.
Chinese president Xi Jinping went to check out the prototype in London alongside the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge on a rather rainy day, while Prime Minister David Cameron said certain things about the open nature of the British economy, truly British icons and vital private sector jobs.
Geely wishes to create at least a thousand of those by working on nine potential product variants, including light commercial vehicles.
In the end, Chinese cars make in into the European Union by not being Chinese at all. That’s exactly how the Japanese manufacturers did it back in the late 1980s.
Photo credit: Geely
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