September 15, 2017 / 12:29 PM / a year ago

London black cabs seek export boost amid Brexit uncertainty

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - The London Electric Vehicle Company (LEVC), owned by China’s Geely (0175.HK), hopes Brexit negotiations will not jeopardise plans to export 50 percent of the black cabs made in England by 2020, Chief Executive Chris Gubbey told Reuters.

FILE PHOTO - A London black cab taxi drives past Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament in late afternoon sunlight in London, Britain, November 10, 2016. REUTERS/Toby Melville

“By 2020 we want 50 percent of our manufactured goods to be exported,” Gubbey said in an interview.

LEVC opened a new factory in central England in March to produce electric black cabs with the aim of producing about 10,000 vehicles for British and overseas markets.

“We’re very keen to see the negotiations proceed in the direction of maintaining the current situation, without additional tariffs,” Gubbey said about efforts between Britain and the European Union to negotiate an amicable separation. “I don’t think anybody has a truly effective plan B.”

The company’s business plan depends on maintaining a free flow of goods between its factory in England and other parts of the Geely Group, which includes Volvo cars.

“The ability to share the technology from Volvo and its supply base is a big enabler,” Gubbey said.

LEVC depends on free trade to keep importing vehicle parts to its UK factory from other markets.

“We get approximately a third of components from the UK, a third from the rest of Europe, and about a third from Asia,” Gubbey said, adding that cabs will use components from other Geely group vehicles.

German engineering company Siemens (SIEGn.DE) provides the electric motors, and German auto supplier ZF [ZFF.UL] supplies generators. Some parts come from sister company Volvo and batteries are provided by LG Chem, Gubbey said.

“We have a higher European content than with the current vehicle,” Gubbey said.

From January, all new cabs in London have to be zero-emissions capable, meaning they cannot be diesel and must be either fully electric or hybrid, according to rules introduced by the mayor of London.

Reporting by Edward Taylor; editing by Susan Thomas

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