New £300m London Taxi Company plant to make only electric vehicles

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The London Taxi Company has opened a new £300 million car plant - the first to be dedicated to producing electric vehicles.

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

In 2013, the London Taxi Company faced administration 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.

Geely said 5,000 vehicles a year will be produced by 2019.

The fully integrated factory will also become a globally connected research and development centre in electric vehicle powertrains and lightweight aluminium body structures, which will be applied in all vehicles made at the plant.

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.

"We are extremely proud of what we have achieved today, and we have firmly put our stake in the ground as a new, global automotive leader in urban commercial vehicles."

The West Midlands site has the capacity to build more than 20,000 vehicles a year - vehicles designed for, and dedicated to being ultra-low emission commercial vehicles.

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

"Now, thanks to the commitment of Geely's top management and accompanying large-scale investment, the iconic London taxi is set for its continued renaissance.

"Tribute should also be paid to the dedicated workforce who have worked hard and diligently to contribute to the current success.

"This is fantastic news in terms of highly skilled jobs for our members and the future creation of employment opportunities. It will be a wonderful boost to the West Midlands economy."