London’s new electric cabs to debut in Amsterdam next year

Updated 11 July 2017
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London’s new electric cabs to debut in Amsterdam next year

LONDON: A new electric version of London’s classic black cabs will arrive on the streets of Amsterdam next year, the first export market for the new model as the London Taxi Company, the Chinese-owned manufacturer, seeks to sell half its output abroad.
The firm, which will formally change its name to the London EV Company later this year, is undergoing a rapid expansion since it was bought out of bankruptcy by China’s Geely in 2013, opening a new plant in Coventry, central England, earlier this year.
By the turn of the decade it hopes to sell to overseas markets 50 percent of the roughly 10,000 vehicles to be produced each year, including a yet to be launched van, and has been showing the new electric plug-in hybrid taxi in a number of European cities.
Chief Executive Chris Gubbey told Reuters the firm had picked the Netherlands as its first export market due to its receptiveness to new technology and the new model’s compatibility with the needs of disabled people, including its ramp and high roof.
“It is a city that is very progressive in terms of protecting and improving its air quality,” he told Reuters.
“They just recognize what the product can do for their market: The accessibility, the ease of getting in and out,” he said.
Amsterdammers will not be able to hail the taxi in the street but instead it will be available as part of a municipal contract hire service provided by Dutch firm RMC to transport the elderly and disabled, including to and from hospital, he said.
RMC’s chief operating officer told Reuters the firm had yet to decide whether the 225 vehicles it is acquiring would be painted black color but said she was confident London cabs would prove a hit in the city and could also be used later in Rotterdam.
“This car takes away all the boundaries and all the differences because it is possible to transport everybody, give everybody the same experience in a beautiful car and because it is purpose-built,” Rohany Amat told Reuters.
“And it is a sustainable car. That is very important,” she said.


Zimbabwe devalues currency to tackle economic crisis

Updated 3 min 7 sec ago
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Zimbabwe devalues currency to tackle economic crisis

  • Zimbabwe adopted the dollar in 2009 but introduced a parallel system of bond notes that it pegged at 1:1 to the US currency
HARARE: Zimbabwe’s central bank began trading a sharply discounted replacement currency on Friday, attempting to ease a cash crunch that has hobbled the economy and plunged millions deep into poverty.
Zimbabwe adopted the dollar in 2009 but, as a chronic hard currency shortage worsened, introduced a parallel system of bond notes that it pegged at 1:1 to the US currency.
Effectively reintroducing a national currency, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) said on Wednesday it would carry out a “managed float” of the surrogate, which fetches far less than a dollar on the black market.
The bond notes and electronic dollars, locked in individuals’ accounts for months due to a lack of cash, will be merged into a separate currency called RTGS — or real-time gross settlement — dollars, the central bank said.
It sold US dollars to banks at 2.5 RTGS dollars on Friday morning, Bank Governor John Mangudya told business leaders.
Commercial banks reopened on Friday after a bank holiday, but with exchange facilities from bond notes to US dollars at the same 2.5 rate limited to individual and corporate holders of foreign currency accounts, queues outside appeared to be no longer than usual.
Other members of the public should, in theory, be able to go to banks on Monday and buy US dollars with bond notes or electronic dollars.
But it is not clear how many US dollars the central bank, which only has enough foreign exchange for two weeks of imports, has sold to banks.
The bond notes and notional electronic funds have plummeted on Zimbabwe’s black market in recent months to around 4 per dollar.
Many foreign traders have stopped accepting bond notes as legal tender, leaving businesses such as millers, brewers and miners hamstrung.
Economists cautiously welcomed the central bank’s decision to allow its currency to devalue.
The RBZ hopes its new measures will temper demand for dollars on the black market and ease inflation as the new currency settles at fair value.