Maker of London’s Black Taxi Cabs May Go Out of Business

December 17, 2012

Unlocking Word Meanings
Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. iconic (adj.) [ahy-kon-ik] –representing or symbolic for something
Example: After starting a fashion trend, Madonna became iconic in the fashion industry.

2. maneuver (v.)  [muh-noo-ver] – to control the direction of a moving vehicle
Example: The pilot maneuvered the plane.

3. paparazzi (n.) [pah-puh-raht-see] – photographers who take and sell pictures of celebrities without permission
Example: The celebrity hid from the paparazzi.

4. monopoly (n.) [muh-nop-uh-lee] – complete control or almost full control of one company over a product or service
Example: After buying out several telephone companies, the young businessman has gained monopoly in the telecommunications business.

5. pull out (v.)  [poo l-out] – to withdraw from something
Example: The fake medicines were pulled out from the market. 

Read the text below.

The iconic black taxi cabs of London may soon disappear as Manganese Bronze, maker of the taxi cabs, recently declared bankruptcy.

The black cab has become the symbol of anything British. It was even featured in parts of the London Olympics’ closing presentation.

The taxi was introduced in the late 50s, and its popularity has lasted for almost a hundred years.

The unique-looking car can be maneuvered through the city’s narrow streets, making it the preferred car of celebrities who want to avoid the paparazzi. In fact, some celebrities including the husband of Queen Elizabeth, have their own black cabs.

Before other taxi cab brands were introduced, Manganese Bronze had a monopoly on London cabs. For decades, it produced taxi cabs with a design similar to the company’s original 1958 Austin FX4 model.

But ever since other car brands such as the Mercedes’ Vito taxi—a mini-van that can fit six passengers—were introduced in 2007, Manganese Bronze has not been earning profit.

Manganese Bronze was also recently forced to pull out 400 cars because of a problem with their steering mechanism.

Despite the popularity of the old-style London cab, attempts to get finances for the car brand have failed, and 300 employees are now at risk of losing their jobs. 

However, John Russell, head of Manganese Bronze, said that even with their difficult situation, the company will do its best to keep itself running. At present, 20,000 black cabs remain in service in London.

Viewpoint Discussion
Enjoy a discussion with your tutor. 

Discussion A

·         Is it okay for cultural symbols like the London black cab to disappear when they no longer earn money? Why or why not?
·         Give an example of an iconic object that represents your country’s culture. How can we preserve the iconic symbols of a country?

Discussion B

·         Can you think of a company that has a monopoly on some products or services (i.e., The company’s brand of products are much more popular than other brands.)? Please describe the products/services.
·         Why do you think a product or service of one company stays popular for a long time?


December 17, 2012