The appointment of administrators for iconic black cab maker Manganese Bronze brings public the difficulties faced by the company for some time. John Bull at London Reconnections has published a definitive article on the firm and its future:
In many ways, the story of the company’s decline is a familiar one, especially to watchers of the automobile world. They effectively established a monopoly position in their chosen market (London taxis) and then began to stagnate. They failed to recognise the need to change for some time and their eventual attempt to innovate their way out of trouble only met with limited success. With the company’s finances now fragile, what was likely an effort to save money by switching suppliers on a key part of the TX4’s design ultimately proved to be a fatal mistake.
The chances of a buyout or funding round for the company must be quite strong - Chinese company Geely, for instance, already holds some 20% of the shares in the business. Restructuring and emphasis on quality may well be enough to turn the business around.
It would be a great shame for the iconic black cab to disappear from London's streets at a time when (the merits of the economics aside), the iconic shape of the Routemaster is reappearing.