Eco City Vehicles, the firm behind the Mercedes Vito London black cab, today saw its shares suspended as it stood on the verge of collapse just two years after rival TX4-designer Manganese Bronze did the same.
The company — founded by ex-cabbie Peter DaCosta — broke Manganese’s monopoly by converting Mercedes people carriers into cabs approved by the Public Carriage Office.
But now its future looks bleak after Eco City admitted its subsidiary One80, which owns the intellectual property to the crucial steering technology that adapts the Vitos to comply with London taxis’ strict turning circle rules, looks set to collapse into administration.
With no more Vitos at present being built after a lack of sales led to a pile-up of stock, Eco City admitted One80 cannot survive because of a “lack of production revenues” as well as an impending legal case against its 76.6% subsidiary by one of its licence holders.
“The group continues to experience challenging trading conditions requiring Eco City Vehicles to seek additional funding,” the firm said.
It added it was in talks with a potential backer but warned those negotiations “may or may not lead to additional funds”.
That uncertainty saw Eco City suspend its shares — which have plummeted by more than 80% in 2014 — at 0.3p “pending further evaluation of its position and future structure”.
Eco City only has one person left on the firm’s executive team, finance director Jonathan Moritz, who did not return telephone calls today.
In August, Eco City blamed San Francisco cab-booking app, Uber, for slaying London’s iconic taxis trade. It said that its collapse in revenues — which were down by a third in the six months of July — were “mainly due to the emergence of Uber”. But the Vito is also facing challenges from new taxis from Metrocab, which is making an electric cab, and Nissan.
Eco City’s struggles follow Maganese Bronze’s collapse in 2012, just two months after the Spice Girls sang and danced on top of five of its cabs in the closing ceremony of the Olympic Games. The firm was later bought by China’s Geely, for £11 million, and restarted production.
Source: The Standard