Two LTI Vehicles-built London ‘black cabs’ (taxis) are heading for the Middle East to see if they can stand the heat of Kuwait.

The specialist vehicle maker is confident a local importer will soon give the green light for the Coventry-built cabs to become a regular fixture in Kuwait and elsewhere in the United Arab Emirates.

“The black cab has always been an icon in England but this has now spread,” said a spokesman for Marketing Management Group, the company taking the two test vehicles to the Middle East.

“The project was started about a year ago when MMG contacted LTI Vehicles about sending some cabs to the Middle East as an automotive niche business.

“The company’s mission is to change the face of the taxi and livery industry in the Middle East through the importation, sale and servicing of purpose-built vehicles.

“With the introduction of the latest model, the company intends to significantly improve the quality of taxi and livery vehicles available in the Middle East countries.

“There have been some alterations to the models, for instance, there is an additional [air conditioner] condenser and shielding around the body shell to help reflect the heat. There are other changes in the materials, such as to the taxi sign on the roof which we are having made in a different material to cope with temperatures which can be from 50 degrees centigrade in the shade.

“We are going to be testing the vehicles for about six months to see how they get on in these conditions.

“We are confident they will come through the trials and we will then create the market for them.”

Current regulations in the Middle East dictate that vehicles used as taxis cannot be more than three years old. MMG is trying to get these rules relaxed to reflect the fact that the TXIIs are designed to last for years.

“There are other avenues in the private sector though, where some companies might just take two, three or four as prestige cars, or they might be used by hospitals or other organisations,” added the spokesman.

Matthew Cheyne, sales and marketing director with LTI Vehicles, said: “This is uncharted territory for us but we are confident that the black cab will soon become a regular feature of cities in the Middle East.”