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Good Taxis



  • fezofezo Posts: 9,328
    Uh oh. I can see it now - "If I have to stop this taxi somebody back there is going to be sorry.".....
  • writerwriter Posts: 119
    I wanted to speculate about where taxi companies are getting their vehicles lately. I think that in the "old days" most taxis were probably bought new in fleet purchases at big discounts. I do not think that happens as much these days. The variety of vehicles, and the general lack of new vehicles indicates that they are probably bought on the used market, probably mostly at bulk auctions, but maybe sometimes from dealers, or maybe even private sales. Part of the reason for this is because there can be really big drops in the cost of a vehicle in the first couple of years. That would favor buying certain vehicles that have depreciated rapidly. So I was wondering if there was a correlation between the cabs on the street and the rates of depreciation.

    Anyway, the following data shows my estimated depreciation of minivans and compares them to what I am now tentatively calling "Utility Vehicles" (not bothering with the distinction if any between "Crossover" or "Sports"). The book I took the numbers from is a vague as to the sources, and dates where the numbers came from, so I have guessed that the numbers fairly represent a 4 year drop from 2003 to 2007. That is close enough for my purposes.

    Vehicle / Lowest New Price / Average 2007 Value / Percent Per Year (linear) / Percent Per Year (log)

    Dodge Caravan / $25,430 / $11,250 / 13.9 / 18.4
    Dodge Grand Caravan / $29,295 / $13,000 / 13.9 / 18.4
    Ford Windstar / $26,195 / $11,000 / 14.5 / 19.5
    Chev Venture / $25,865 / $11,750 / 13.6 / 17.9
    Pontiac Montana / $28,520 / $11,750 / 14.7 / 19.9

    Honda Odyssey LX / $32,200 / $18,750 / 10.4 / 12.6
    Kia Sedona LX / $24,995 / $11,000 / 14.0 / 18.6
    Mazda MPV DX / $26,090 / $13,750 / 11.8 / 14.8
    Toyota Sienna CE 4d / $29,060 / $16,750 / 10.6 / 12.9

    Chev Astro CS / $27,600 / $12,500 / 13.7 / 18.0

    Small-Medium UV
    Acura MDX / $49,000 / $29,000 / 10.2 / 12.3
    Buick Rendezvous / $31,545 / $14,750 / 13.3 / 17.3
    Honda CR-V / $27,300 / $17,250 / 9.2 / 10.8
    Honda Element / $23,900 / $13,750 / 10.6 / 12.9
    Honda Pilot / $41,000 / $24,250 / 10.2 / 12.3
    Hyundai Santa Fe / $22,595 / $13,750 / 9.8 / 11.7
    Kia Sorento / $29,795 / $15,500 / 12.0 / 15.1
    Toyota Highlander FWD / $32,330 / $18,250 / 10.9 / 13.3
    Toyota RAV4 4X4 / $24,485 / $14,500 / 10.2 / 12.3

    All prices from Edmonston's 2007 "SUVs, Vans, and Trucks".
    NOTE: Edmunston does not generally separate long v. short wheelbase versions.

    The "linear" percentage drop is basically what it should cost annually for a lease whereas the "log" percentage drop is the estimate of the real depreciation per year.

    I am still looking at the numbers, so I do not have any conclusions right now. Draw your own, if you can. . . .
  • writerwriter Posts: 119

    My apologies. I was quite tired when I submitted the previous post. Actually, I usually am quite tired when I post anything. Anyway there are some corrections:

    - I did not state that the prices were all Canadian dollar prices for 2003 model year vehicles.

    - I meant to say that the linear depreciation is LIKE a lease payment calculation because it is a constant value depreciation. This is NOT how leases are calculated, it is just similar.
  • steverstever YooperlandPosts: 40,012
    That's a lot of work! If you want to keep at it - Edmunds will tell you what the depreciation will run for those vehicles out to five years (US numbers only though).

    True Cost to Own

    Best get a gallon of Tim Horton's coffee for your next session. :shades:

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  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 28,850
    Next trip I will look into an executive car service (Lincoln Town Car).

    For several of my trips to and from the airport I used this fellow with a Lincoln Town Car. He charged me $25 each way and picked me up at the curb on return. At the time Cloud Nine was charging when you pay in advance $74 round trip and they loaded the van up with people both directions. I hated using them. My Town car guy lasted about a year and then his phone was disconnected. Never found a service I liked as well. Town Cars make great Taxi cabs. Vans are ok for a short 2 mile trip to the hotel.
  • writerwriter Posts: 119
    "That's a lot of work!"

    Bad thought! Never even think about how much work you are doing when start something like this. Otherwise you end up not getting started. :-)

    Besides, as I said, I had a lot of the data lying around from previous research, which I will comment on in my next messages.

    The "True Cost" calculator is, on the one hand really good, but on the other hand, it was overkill for what I needed for this particular thread. Good to know it is there.

    Re the coffee: Never think about how much coffee you are drinking, . . . , well, ok, maybe when your hands start shaking.
  • writerwriter Posts: 119
    This is an examination of the decision I made, 3 - 4 months ago, back in August, when I decided to buy a standard version (short) 2003 Pontiac Montana instead of an GMC Astro or a Buick Rendezvous.

    I had set aside about $9000 Cdn. to buy a vehicle I could use to move my personal furniture for the next couple of years. In the end, I was pressed for time and I was NOT able to complete my research satisfactorily, so I took a gamble and hoped that my past experience would make up for the incomplete research and lead me to the right decision. I spent most of the money based on the resulting choice. After the purchase, I continued the research and fortunately, I concluded that I made the right choice.

    How it Relates To Taxis:

    Put simply, back in 2003, as new vehicles, depending on options and discounts, a Buick Rendezvous could be bought for around the same price as a short version Pontiac Montana. According to Edmonston, the depreciation rates appear to be pretty close. So one should be able to buy either one about the same price as a used vehicle.

    For a taxi, the primary difference is that the Buick would have swing open rear doors and the Pontiac would have sliding doors. As I have stated above, in my opinion, except for taxis for the handicapped, it would be better for a taxi to have swing open rear doors. Even if my opinion about doors is not the most common, at the very least, if they were available on the used market at the same price as Montanas, there should be a few Buicks running around as taxis right now. But this has not happened. I have not even seen one Buick Rendezvous taxi. Why not?

    About the "Lemon-Aid" Books v. The Real World:

    Phil Edmonston writes very well researched books. Mostly, he gets his facts right. However, that does not mean that the facts back up his opinions. His recommendations can be quite good, but it depends on who you are.

    If you are not interested in vehicles and do not want to do much research, then his overly-suspicious and negative opinions and advice are probably what you need. If you are willing and have time to do further research, you can use his opinions and research to find bargains that people who do not go further than his books, will miss. Let me emphasize that I LIKE his books, and I recommend them to people who need to learn about buying a used car. But I am well aware that the books are not perfect.

    Specific Problems:

    He lumps models together. For example, when you look at his pricing, he does not separate long vs. short wheelbase Pontiac Montanas. In the real world, the long wheelbase versions usually cost more. I generally found that the dealers asked about $1000 more for a long version, though I think that I could get the final price difference down to around $500. But Edmonston makes such generalizations often. Does he really think he can get a good condition 2-door 2003 Pontiac Sunfire for the same price as a 4-door? Think again. The 2-door versions are relatively rare in good condition and has some popularity in the young "tuner" set. The 4-door is not so highly regarded. Also, he does not even try to factor in milage (except to mention that 20,000 km is about average for a year), and gives little guidance regarding the value of options and the condition of the vehicle (exactly what is a slightly dented fender worth to you?).

    He does the same for companies, and, I think, people (since companies are exactly that -- people). It does not appear that he is critical about the complaints he quotes. In other words, he seems to assume that if someone writes in with a complaint, then the complaint is legitimate and the manufacturer or dealer is wrong.

    About the Rendezvous' Reputation

    I do not have any reason to believe that the Rendezvous has any worse reputation than the Montana. In fact, it seems to generally be a better reputation. There were early problems with the Rendezvous, which have been typical for GM products, but if you read Edmunds Forums, I think you will agree that problems do not seem to be that common, nor as severe after around 2003 (when GM's DexCool problem was finally corrected). The same can be said for the Montana, but the Rendezvous was not around back as far as 1996 when the "platform" was in its' earliest years, so there are proportionally fewer people who bought Buicks who have complaints.

    I do not know what the exact sales figures where, but my impression is that fewer Rendezvous' sold than Montanas in any given year. This was largely due to the "bold" styling. So in the end, Rendezvous' were bought by people who wanted that specific vehicle, and except for the very earliest production runs, it tended to satisfy those who bought them. So on the used market, what I found was that an equivalent Buick would have cost me about $2000 more. And even then, there were few that were really equivalent to my "low end" Montana, so more likely I would have spent over $3000 more to buy a Buick. This is hard to gauge because I did not sit down and negotiate an actual purchase. I am only going by what was offered.


    It appears to me that contrary to the numbers I found in Edmonston's book, the real depreciation of the 2003 Rendezvous is not as severe as the 2003 Montana. On top of that, there are fewer really "low end" Rendezvous available.

    I was able to buy a short 2003 Montana in quite good condition with under 130,000 km. on it (and 1 year power train warranty) for a little over $7,000, including all dealer markups and taxes. On the one hand, there were certainly good condition Rendezvous' available to buy, but as noted above, from what I saw available, I would probably have paid around $11,000 at the low end.

    This is what a theoretical taxi company would also find. The Buick Rendezvous *could* be bought, but the used Montanas and Ventures (and Dodge Caravans and Grand Caravans) are significantly cheaper, and unless they run out of these, they will not buy Rendezvous' for use as taxis.
  • pmc4pmc4 Posts: 198
    The BMW 3-Series and Mercedes Benz C-Class sedans are good taxi's--in Europe and Asia. They're equipped with horns, fuel gauges, transmissions and on occasion, optional tachonometers on vehicles so equipped.
    In America, however, these vehicles are considered premium luxury/sport sedans (?).

    Any explination for this bizarre buyer phonomena, BMW/Benz owners?
  • steverstever YooperlandPosts: 40,012
    Same reason Buicks are highly sought after in China? (link)

    Another take on Buicks in China:

    "The carmaker Buick, for instance, which suffers from a stodgy image in the United States, has done well in China by creating an aura of status and solidity that projects financial ambition. Sports cars, by contrast, are a hard sell because they are too flashy and project an image of nonconformity."

    International Herald Tribune

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  • andys120andys120 Loudon NHPosts: 16,593
    BMW 3-Series and Mercedes Benz C-Class sedans are good taxi's--in Europe and Asia. They're equipped with horns, fuel gauges, transmissions and on occasion, optional tachonometers on vehicles so equipped.
    In America, however, these vehicles are considered premium luxury/sport sedans (?).

    Any explination for this bizarre buyer phonomena, BMW/Benz owners.

    Well it's certainly nice to have horns and fuel gauges in your cab and having a transmission beats pedaling the taxi around Flinstone-style>


    My "explination "(sic) would be as follows:

    1) European customers would never accept the cramped, uncomfortable cars that pass as taxis in NA. I suspect the drivers would go out on strike if forced to spend eight hours in a Crown Vic.

    2) Mercedes and BMWs in taxi fleets are almost always 4 cyl diesel or stripped down models that would be unsaleable in the USA even though they have transmissions.

    3)"Prestige" is mostly in the buyer/owner's mind, the product of marketing hype and social cachet.

    4)Mercedes and BMW cars sell well here because they are perceived as well-engineered and long-lasting, exactly the sttributes that an indidual or fleet owner would seek.

    2000 BMW 528i, 2001 BMW 330CiC

  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 21,849
    1) European customers would never accept the cramped, uncomfortable cars that pass as taxis in NA. I suspect the drivers would go out on strike if forced to spend eight hours in a Crown Vic.

    I always thought it was a bit ironic that, of the Big Three full-sized models that downsized in the late 70's, the Crown Vic was the one that was usually worst-suited for police/taxi duty, yet it was the one that held on the longest.

    And in some ways, the Crown Vic seems to have gotten WORSE with age! A buddy of mine has an '04 Crown Vic LX (uplevel models) and I swear it's not as nice or comfy inside as his old '95 Grand Marquis GS (base model). It also seems to me that the older, boxier 1979-91 style was roomier inside. More comfy, better seat padding, easier to get in and out of, etc.

    The Crown Vic was the smallest of the Big Three downsized cars, though, so that might be one reason. It started off on a 114.3" wheelbase (I think it's increased a bit to 114.7 now). In contrast, GM's B-bodies were on a 116" wb, and Chrysler's short-lived 1979-81 models were on a 118.5" wb. It just seems to me that things like the wheel wells, driveshaft/tranny hump, and dashboard intrude more into the passenger area on the Crown Vic than they do in the other cars. And these are factors that won't affect published headroom/shoulder room/legroom dimensions, but still make the car less comfortable.
  • writerwriter Posts: 119
    I just checked back the date of I started this topic. I wondered back then if we would have some real taxi people (owners, drivers, mechanics) replying on this topic. I am a bit surprised. I would have thought that some ex-cabbies would be around, but I guess not. Either that or they just do not feel like posting anything on this topic.
  • writerwriter Posts: 119
    While I was driving this morning, I heard a news report about Mayor Bloomberg saying that New York City's cabs were going to be hybrids. I did not hear the whole report, but the thought stuck in my head and I just got around to a Google search and I guess that what I heard was his address to the "UNITED NATIONS FRAMEWORK CONVENTION FOR CLIMATE CHANGE CONFERENCE" today.

    Bloomberg address press release

    Among his comments in his address, he said:

    "Just this week, we took steps to ensure that by the year 2012, our city's 13,000 taxicabs will be hybrid or hybrid-equivalents. That alone will cut New York City's carbon emissions by nearly half a percentage point, and save each cabdriver almost $5,000 a year in fuel costs."

    I did not know that this was going on. Something to think about.
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,167
    It seems to me that the '08 Scion xB would be a nice, practical taxi. It might be even better with a Prius drivetrain, or a diesel engine. The relative unaerodynamic shape would be relatively insignificant for a taxi, where space efficiency is a higher priority.

    Domestic alternatives would include the Ford Escape hybrid, Saturn Vue hybrid or Malibu hybrid.
  • andys120andys120 Loudon NHPosts: 16,593
    I believe there are already a small number of Escape Hybrids doing Taxi duty in the Big Apple. They strike me as too small and the cost for replacing batteries must be horrendous.

    2000 BMW 528i, 2001 BMW 330CiC

  • lemkolemko Posts: 15,120
    ...had a very good taxi in the 1942-48 models. Packard also made taxis of their six-cylinder models.
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,167
    "They strike me as too small and the cost for replacing batteries must be horrendous."

    I don't know about the cost of replacing batteries, but the U.S. is one of the only countries where the Escape is too small for taxi service. Achieving greater energy independence will probably require small sacrifices here and there, at least until better technology is developed. I'm not saying we should use old VW Beetles as taxis, as they do in Mexico City, or that the Escape is the best choice, but those Crown Vics strike me as unnecessarily wasteful.
  • andys120andys120 Loudon NHPosts: 16,593
    The Crown Vic is extremely wasteful, I'll bet it has less passenger room than a Scion xB, or an Escape, for that matter.

    2000 BMW 528i, 2001 BMW 330CiC

  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 28,850
    The Crown Vic is extremely wasteful, I'll bet it has less passenger room than a Scion xB, or an Escape, for that matter.

    How about trunk space? A rental agency tried to stick me with an Escape when I rented an Explorer. We could not get all our luggage behind the seat. Had to stack it in the back seat.

    What other sedan holds 6 people? Most of the Crown Vics in San Diego are CNG making them somewhat cleaner than a hybrid.
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,167
    "What other sedan holds 6 people?"

    The Chevy Impala and Buick LaCrosse can be ordered with six passenger seating. I would think that the Impala, especially, would be a good substitute for the Crown Vic.

    Surprisingly, the new Taurus doesn't offer 6 passenger seating, as far as I know. Too bad, because I believe the Taurus may offer more interior room than the Crown Vic. Maybe Ford wants to discourage using the Taurus for taxi service, since it would hurt its image. Yet, Mercedes are used as taxis in many countries, perhaps even helping that brand's image as a well built, sturdy car that can take a lot of abuse.
This discussion has been closed.