By Eric Edwards
In the USA, taxis are most often used for short trips and carry small loads, and are used primarily in
the larger cities and to carry passengers to/from airports. Passenger comfort and mechanical longevity are the most important areas to consider in this market. The relatively low fuel prices in most parts of the US make a larger taxi, like the Ford Crown Victoria, a viable option. Many taxi’s in the USA have a partition between the front and rear seat, so the prospective buyer must factor this space requirement into their purchasing decision.
The high cost of fuel and relatively light distance and load requirements make fuel performance and physical size the primary factors in choosing a car for use in a market like the UK. Another important factor is the size and maneuverability of the car;the taxi needs to be able to navigate the crowded narrow streets one encounters in the big cities of the UK.
India – In India the initial cost of the car and the cost of operation are the most
important factors when selecting a car for use as a taxi. Both load requirements and trip length are likely to be more of a factor than in the US or UK markets. Passenger comfort is a secondary factor in this type of market, while ruggedness and durability are of paramount importance. The roads in many rural areas are quite rough and given the heavy load that is often carried by taxis in these rural areas a vehicle with stout suspension and chassis is critical.
Like the US market, passenger comfort is important in the European market. Like the UK market, the European market has high fuel cost so fuel economy is also a primary consideration in this market. It is important to note that many countries have very stringent emissions laws, and the car chosen must be able to meet the emissions standards of the area to procure a taxi license. Many taxi companies in Europe swear by diesel powered vehicles because of their reputation for long engine life, fuel efficiency, and low maintenance cost over the life of the car.
The Asian market model takes into consideration the high population density typical in many Asian cities, so the physical size of the vehicle as well as the vehicle’s maneuverability in tight quarters are a major consideration. Safety and emission laws vary widely in Asia, so the buyer must make certain the vehicle they purchase can meet the requirements for the area the cab is to be licensed in.
Now that we have briefly described the 5 scenarios we are going to explore, let’s look at the list of vehicles we will examine:
Ford Crown Victoria –
A favorite of New York City cabbies, the Crown Victoria is often available in the form of used police cars. These used vehicles are typically well maintained and are sold for a fraction of their original cost. The “Crown Vic”, as they are affectionately known, are a solid, full sized sedan offering excellent passenger comfort and are roominess. The downside is they typically come with gas guzzling V-8 engines and their large size makes them difficult to maneuver in tight places. Ford is discontinuing production of this venerable classic, however there will still be quality used models available for years to come.
Price: $7,000 (used)
MPG: 15 city/21 highway
Ford Escape Hybrid –
This car, like all hybrid models, emit very low amounts of pollutants and get extremely good gas mileage, up to 100 miles a gallon in some cases. The Ford Escape Hybrid, which gets 36 mpg around town and runs entirely off the battery at speeds less than 25 mph has much lower emissions in stop-and-go congestion than a similar vehicle with a standard engine.
MPG: 36 city/34 highway
Toyota Prius Hybrid –
The Prius Hybrid has enjoyed great popularity in the USA and European markets due to it’s longevity and ruggedness, in addition to the great mileage/low emissions common to all hybrids. Users report trouble free operation for 250,000 to 400,00 miles. It’s compact size and short turning radius make it great for crowded, narrow streets.
MPG: 51 city/48 highway
2012 Dodge Grand Caravan –
The roomy, dependable Grand Caravan has been a favorite of taxi companies the world over for quite some time. Both the new and used models represent a good value for use in the taxi industry.
MPG: 17 city/25 highway
Nissan NV200 –
Designed for taxi use, the NV200’s features include:
low emissions and strong fuel efficiency Dual sliding doors with retractable enter/exit footstep Flat "no hump" passenger floor area making it both roomier and more comfortable Lights that alert other vehicles that the taxi doors are opening, Additionally, Nissan has partnered with Braun Corp. to come up with and produce a new solution for a wheelchair-accessible taxi for the city that will be offered and available for sale in 2013.
Price: $20,000 (2013)
MPG: 24 city/25 highway
VPG MV-1 –
In October of 2011 it was announced that New York City's Taxi and Limousine Commission had approved the MV-1 for use as a yellow cab. Comfortable and roomy, the MV-1's body-on-frame design is highly durable and well suited for city road conditions. Designed for taxi service, the MV-1 can comfortably of carry 5 passengers, and includes the option of wheelchair transport capability.
Layout Front-engine, rear-wheel-drive
Engine 4.6 L Ford Modular V8
MPG: 13 city/18 highway
2003-2006 Toyota Camry 4cyl. –
The Toyota Camry is perhaps the perfect taxi, faithfullyperforming its duties, never annoying its owner/driver. It outsells all the other midsize cars largely because of Toyota's reputation for quality, durability and reliability.
The Camry’s huge popularity over the years means there are always an abundant number of used vehicles for sale, perfect for those companies with limited startup capital.
For 2006, the Toyota Camry gets a five-speed automatic choice with the available four-cylinder engine.
Price: $7,911 - $9,561
MPG: 24 City / 33 HWY
Ford Transit Connect -
Available as a van or wagon, the Connect is also available with an optional Taxi Package.
MPG: 21 City / 27 HWY
Price : $21,495
Conclusion – Best car for the markets:
USA – 2013 Nissan NV200
UK – 2013 Nissan NV200
India – 2003-2006 Toyota Camry 4cyl.
Europe – 2012 Ford Escape Hybrid
Asia – 2013 Nissan NV200