Among the many business casualties of 2012 was the company behind London’s world-famous black cabs, which collapsed into administration 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.
While the company, Man–ganese Bronze, had plenty of its own problems, many people in the trade blame one man for its decline: Peter DaCosta, the driving force behind its only official rival. It was his company, Eco City Vehicles, that broke Manganese’s monopoly by converting Mercedes people carriers into cabs approved by the Public Carriage Office, which regulatesand licences taxis and private hire vehicles in the UK.
An ex-cabbie himself, who once drove singer Shirley Bassey, DaCosta insists he was not happy to see the decline of Manganese. “When people think we are sitting here rubbing our hands together and saying yippee, we are not. I want to do the right thing for the cab trade.”
While talks were said to be continuing with possible buyers for the Coventry (in England’s West Midlands) manufacturer, it has laid off staff and some fear its distinctive cars could disappear from the streets of London.
The firm will be faced with a second competitor when Nissan launches its version of the black cab this year. DaCosta says he welcomes the competition. “It is a limited market but it makes you even more keener, doesn’t it, once it’s a limited market.”