Where is your next (Australian) taxi coming from?
Taxi drivers are always good for a discussion and opinion, and two subjects have been regulars during my airport taxi rides recently: Uber and the end of the Australian made car industry.
UBER AS THE great disrupter has been covered by many and my own experience is largely overseas (there is never an Uber on the booking screen near my home), so I tend to be more interested in the second discussion.
No more Falcons, Commodores or (local) Camrys for private and company fleet cars is far less significant for the end user than is the impact on the taxi industry. There is now a much more complex choice to make for anyone running a taxi. Where is the aftermarket and supporting industry heading with hard wearing seat trims, can they get warranty coverage of the vehicle used as a taxi, will the engines and transmissions put up with several hundred thousand kilometres per year, can they be serviced in a couple of hours and put back on the road to earn more dollars?
Talking with the drivers they have their own personal ideas, favourites and experiences. Seems some of the importers view taxi use of their brand as an opportunity to move more units, others as an assault on the image and positioning of their brand.
The potential vehicles being kicked around for suburban sedan use include the expected (Camry, Chrysler 300, E class Merc) and the less expected (Mazda 6, Hyundai Genesis, Kia Optima, Infiniti Q50, Lexus ES300h). Some of the drivers remain resolute on finding a RWD 6 cylinder that can run LPG, others are equally firm they need a Hybrid.
I think the Camry Hybrid is likely to be the big winner as they already enjoy a presence and support in the industry. Maybe a few more Mercs as the premium service choice, but I don’t see MB actively entering the taxi fleet business (with a tailored spec vehicle).
A long shot could be Chinese company Geely bringing in the newly reborn London Taxi in the form of the TX5 taxi-cab, in many ways I think this could work in the larger cities.
However this pans out, as long as I get a clean and relatively comfortably ride home, all wheels remain attached and without the driver falling asleep or causing me to lose my airline breakfast; that will do.