LTC writes letter to the taxi trade

EVP Peter Johansen's Open Letter to the Licensed Hackney Carriage Trade

It has been just over a year since Geely acquired The London Electric Vehicle Company and I wrote my first letter to the taxi trade. What an exciting and positive year it turned out to be!

Twelve months ago I set out our priority of putting customers first with a focus on quality in everything we did. At the start of this journey, my first step was to listen and learn from the trade. I visited cab ranks, chatted with you over cups of tea in your favourite cafes, received and responded to more than 400 e-mails, and read numerous tweets. You certainly were not shy in coming forward with your views on how we could improve and I would like to thank everyone for their contributions. We have taken your ideas on board and this has helped us to focus on what is important to you.

Given our previous standing and reputation, 2013 was a golden opportunity for us to demonstrate through actions, and not just words, the trust and respect that we have for our customers and the industry as a whole.

We shared with you our vision for The London Electric Vehicle Company to be recognised as the leading global provider of purpose-built taxis, on a sustainable, profitable business model and we have grasped this opportunity with both hands. Our efforts were not in vain; in the seven months of 2013 that we were fully operational, we sold more than 1,200 taxis.

2014 has started well for us and we are already ahead of budget; in March 2014 we will deliver more than 200 new cabs in London alone and we have a healthy order book with in excess of 150 drivers waiting to take delivery of a new TX4. In order to meet this demand we have worked an extra day each week throughout February and March to build more TX4s. I would like to thank all of our customers who contributed to this success for their loyalty and support.

I’m delighted that so many of you have now recognised the improvements that we have made both to the TX4 and the other services that we provide. We started by giving our Brewery Road dealership a much needed makeover to brighten it up and we are proud of the improvements to the waiting lounge in the customer service area where you can catch up on the latest news or football results on the TV and help yourself to tea and coffee. However, this expenditure would have been wasted if we did not also focus on the human elements of improving our customer service.

When we began to rebuild our sales team we chose to focus on recruiting people who had experience in customer service from a range of industries. I am delighted with the talented pool of individuals who work for us, as they are dedicated to making sure that we meet your every need. It really has made a difference to our business and I am grateful to all of you who have commented positively on these changes. If you haven’t visited Brewery Road in the last twelve months to buy a cab or have your existing cab serviced, I strongly recommend that you do so; I know that you will be welcomed and well looked after.

We recognise that your taxi is not just a vehicle but also your livelihood. When your taxi needs to be serviced or repaired it is vital that we get you back on the road as quickly as possible. We have an obligation to check every taxi thoroughly when it comes in for repair and sometimes what was booked in as a simple service may identify other jobs that need to be addressed. It is important in these situations that we communicate clearly with you what we have found and provide you with a reasonable estimate of the time and cost required to rectify the problem. In recent months I have been pleased to hear that you have noticed the improvements that we have made to our Service Department and that you appreciate the care and attention that we are showing to you in this area. We have also improved our After Sales services, investing in better training and technical support to the Approved Service Dealer network, to make sure that you receive the best service possible.

We promised that we would prioritise improvements in vehicle quality. Our product enhancement initiatives, coupled with changes made at our Coventry production facility, have all increased the product quality significantly. In Coventry we have an army of engineers and production staff working tirelessly to continually upgrade and improve the London Taxi. Our rigorous internal processes and regular quality audits ensure that issues are flagged, prioritised and resolved quickly and effectively. Drivers have commented that the current TX4 is the best taxi that we have ever built, and it is.

The latest TX4 rides smoother, handles better, and is quieter than any other taxi we have ever made.
If you don’t believe me, ask your fellow drivers or better still, arrange a test drive and try one of our new cabs yourself. You won’t be disappointed.

All of this would not have been possible without the unswerving support of Geely, both operationally and financially. Geely have committed to spend in excess of £200 million over the next five years continuing to improve the existing TX4 and on developing the next generation of the iconic London Taxi. In 2015, the TX4 will be upgraded with a new Euro 6 engine, offering not only lower emissions but better fuel economy as well. This represents an investment of more than £11 million in new engine technology and other improvements to keep the existing TX4 up to date.

The Mayor of London has announced that with effect from 1 January 2018 all new taxis registered in London will have to be zero-emissions capable. We will meet this challenge by offering a brand new, no compromise, purpose built, fully-accessible, plug–in range extended electric hybrid taxi. The new vehicle will continue to reflect the iconic design of the London Taxi with everything you would expect to see and much more.

This project also gives us an opportunity to address some of the more difficult challenges that we have had to live with for far too long with a particular focus on driver comfort and fuel efficiency.

However, this will not mark the end of the TX4 on the streets of London because we understand from TfL that new vehicles registered before 31 December 2017 will still be able to operate up to the 15 year age limit.

Our 2013 strategy required us to focus our attention on the London trade in order to ensure that we could create a sustainable commercial platform. This year, whilst we will continue to build on our achievements in London, we will also look to apply the lessons that we have learnt to our regional markets in order to further strengthen our position across the entire UK.

The London Taxi is recognised the world over and we are beginning to harvest the opportunity that this brings us by exporting TX4s throughout the world. We may have lost the Ashes, but there are now 100 white TX4 London Taxis in operation on the streets of Perth, Australia and we are hoping to expand this success into other major cities throughout the world.

I hope you agree that we have achieved a great deal. I can tell you that we want to achieve a great deal more.

Thank you all once again for your continued loyalty and support.

Peter Johansen

Executive Vice-President

The London Electric Vehicle Company


We have come a long way since we reopened our doors in February 2013. Here are some further examples of the progress we have made:


SALES:

· Excellent sales and order take for 2013, especially in London

· Record sales in February 2014

· March and April order intake shows a continuing growth trend in sales

· Vehicle waiting time (initial order to delivery process) reduced from 6 to 4 weeks,
as production and quality improvements are further refined

RETAIL:

· Customer service excellence used as key motivator for all staff

· Removal of all commission and bonus incentives in order to focus on customer service and quality

· Customer surveys for post-vehicle handover and workshop satisfaction show a strongly improving trend, helping us to identify areas for further improvement

TRAINING:

· New internal Training Academy launched in mid-2013 by LTC technical team, resulting in better diagnostics and increased first-time-fix levels for customers

· Training Academy courses now available to all Approved Service Dealers

WARRANTY:

· Retention of the 3 year,100,000 mile vehicle warranty

· Higher mileage option to extend the warranty, at the point of purchase on new TX4s

· A more generous goodwill policy for customers who only service their vehicles through the Approved Service Dealer network, using Genuine Parts and lubricants

PRODUCTION:

· Full production restarted in September, with a 5-day week implemented to deal with increased demand during peak periods

· Product enhancements improvements now fitted as standard to all new taxis

COMMUNICATION:

· peter@london-taxis.co.uk: 400 customer have emailed comments, feedback and praise; all useful barometers that we continue to move in the right direction

· Rank visits: Simple and effective way to contact the trade - we will do more in 2014

FUTURE-PROOFING:

· In February 2014, we unveiled our purpose-built, plug-in range extended electric Black Cab concept for 2018, designed in the inimitable style of the one and only, iconic London Taxi (find out more at http://www.levc.com/)