AU My! 50 Gold Taxicabs Take To The Streets Of Shanghai

Welcome to China, where the streets may not be paved in gold but the taxicabs that ply them sure do look golden! The first 50 cabs from Shanghai's new fleet of Chinese-made, gold painted TX4 “London Taxis” just hit the roads with another 150 on order.

The cabs are made by the Geely Automobile company, one of China's largest automakers, and before you accuse them of shamelessly ripping off one of London's most enduring symbols consider this: the iconic (well, since 2007) TX4 black cabs cruising through Piccadilly Circus are manufactured by The London Taxi Company, which is a subsidiary of Manganese Bronze, which itself was bought lock, stock and barrel by Geely Automobile in 2013.

With that said, Geely is well within their rights to release hoards of black TX4 taxis onto China's highways and byways but in Shanghai, at least, they've shown remarkable restraint by painting their cabs gold – and not brilliantly polished gold, either.

The official explanation put forth by Qiangsheng Taxi Company, Shanghai's largest taxi company and operator of the golden taxis, is that the unusual color scheme will “suit the city's image better”. Werks for us, Qiangsheng!

This past weekend, the first 50 of an order of 200 golden taxis were released to roam Shanghai's streets under the expert guidance of their nattily suited driver-owners. Like their more subdued London cousins, Shanghai's golden TX4's feature a two-person capacity back seat along with a fold-down jump seat that can accommodate an extra passenger. The cars are also designed to be more accessible to elderly and mobility-challenged riders while featuring free WiFi service and an enhanced air cleaner.

Qiangsheng Taxi Company foresees the golden cabs will be in great demand due to their novelty and their convenience features, and in this they espy an opportunity to reap some profits.

The standard 14-yuan starting rate for non-gold, flag-down cabs is to be boosted to 19 yuan and customers will be charged 2.6 yuan for each additional kilometer traveled. What's more, the golden taxis can't be flagged down - customers will need to make reservations a day in advance. “Hello, Qiangsheng Taxi Company... you talkin' to me?” (via Shanghaiist and NetEase)