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Eco City’s Mercedes Vito taxi drives 30% revenue growth


In its preliminary results, Specialist vehicle distributor, Eco City Vehicles (AIM:ECV) told investors that strong demand for its co-developed Mercedes Vito taxis has driven a 30% increase in revenues to £24.7m (2008: £19m). As the company closed the year with the sale of its 500th Vito taxi - selling 398 units in 2009 - Eco City decided to up production at its Coventry manufacturing base in 2010.

The Vito taxi is the result of a co-development between Mercedes-Benz, Eco City and its associate company one80. The vehicle, based on Eco City’s patented rear-wheel steering technology, boasts improved fuel economy and lower emissions.

“Despite a tough economic environment, Eco City has delivered solid results for 2009. This reflects strong demand for the London-licensed Mercedes Vito taxi, which made its first full year sales contribution to the Group last year, and continues to set the pace for new taxi sales in the capital”, Eco City Chief Executive  Peter DaCosta commented.

According to Eco City, an increasing number of passengers are now specifically requesting the Vito when booking cabs and are also opting for the Vito for longer journeys, often in preference to private hire vehicles.

In the year ended 31st December 2009, Eco City more than tripled Vito sales to 398 units, the company said it captured a 24% share of London’s new taxi market in the first full-year of the taxi’s production. In terms of its other operations, used vehicle sales increased by 112% to 308 units, and the company launched its 3.5 tonne hybrid Mitsubishi Canter Series Hybrid truck in UK - which received excellent market feedback from potential customers, Eco City said.

The company also ceased operating its loss-making in-cab advertising licensee, Transmedia Ltd.

In 2009 Eco City achieved positive operating cash-flows generating £1.47m, compared to a £2.89m cash outflow in the previous year. The company reported a narrowing pre-tax loss, from continuing operations, of £0.2m (FY08: £0.7m loss), which on a per-share basis equates to 0.13p (FY08: 0.23p loss). Eco City also cut its net debt to £2.4m (FY08: £3.1m).

Since the end of the reporting period, Eco City has made further progress as it has launched an all electric prototype taxi, the Mercedes eVito, and it is currently in discussions to develop a series hybrid Vito taxi. And significantly, it has upped production of the existing Vito taxi at its Coventry manufacturing base, increasing production from eight units per week at the end of the year, to twelve in 2010.

“The Vito has established itself as a favourite with corporate London. With the total number of Vito taxis sold now more than 700, production has been stepped up from eight to twelve per week at our site in Coventry. As a result we look to the future with cautious optimism”, added.

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