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.


But it's too big for me!


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About Author

Stephen Harrison

Stephen Harrison makes a habit of exhibiting a somewhat unusual view (some have mentioned 'dodgy') for what passes as practical motoring. Coming from a family maintaining a car to person ration of greater than 1:1 and with club level motorsport history on 2 & 4 wheels, he enjoys lifting the bonnet and understanding what the manufacturers have been hiding under the shiny coverings.


  1. In the SE corner of Queensland, the vast majority of TAXIs are TOYOTA Camry Hybrids, PRIUS v, PRIUS or Aurion. Some people-movers too. Almost no FALCON or COMMODORE TAXIs anymore here. There were a few PASSAT Diesels, but rarely see one now.

    I’m surprised that the London TAXI type vehicle hasn’t been imported here.

    1. There has been a couple of half baked previous attempts, including transplanting the VN Commodore V6 into the old London Cab.

  2. Maybe with the rise of Uber and the taxi being an endangered species it’s fitting they stick with Australian built cars.

  3. Many of the taxis in Brisbane are hybrids to save running costs, replacement batteries are expensive but taxis do a lot of kms in a year. A Camry hybrid had an lpg system fitted to give an alternative to the expensive petrol, I do not know how well this conversion worked but they must have lost more boot space as some is taken by the battery.
    I was surprised the Taxi Industry never advertised their Hybrid vehicles, e.g. Less emissons, saving the planet and the smaller hybrids did drive well and were quieter for passenger and driver.

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