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Good Taxis

writerwriter Posts: 121
edited March 2014 in Ford
I do not generally have a lot of interest in taxis. However, I recently bought a minivan, and I realized that there were a lot more minivans being used as taxis than I had been aware of. Having thought about it, I realized that depending on the area that the taxi was going to service, a minivan could be a very good choice. On the other hand, I could also think of other areas where a different vehicle would be a better choice. It is not surprise that there is a wide variety of vehicles being used for taxis in my city.

So what current vehicle do you think could make a good taxi and why?
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Comments

  • writerwriter Posts: 121
    One vehicle that could be a good taxi in a downtown area would be the Mazda 5. The only problem I see is that the motor is a bit small if a heavy load attempted.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 23,561
    If it's a vehicle used mainly in downtown use, I don't think you'd have to worry too much about blinding acceleration, so the Mazda 5's engine might be okay. After all, a great deal of the old Mopar taxis were just slant sixes, and many Checkers just had Chevy 230/250's.

    I think the main thing taxis have to be is durable, rugged, and cheap to fix. And that's not necessarily the same as reliable.
  • andys120andys120 Loudon NHPosts: 20,657
    think the main thing taxis have to be is durable, rugged, and cheap to fix. And that's not necessarily the same as reliable.

    Yep, that's the reason Taxis fleets like Police Depts have stuck so long with the antediluvian Crown Victorias. CVs are awful to ride in, extremely cramped in the back with low roofs, and not great to drive as the seats are bad and they're really thirsty. I notice in recent years fwd sedans and vans have been used more and more as cabs.

    A minivan is almost ideal for taxi use in places like NYC because they're easy to get in/out of, have plenty of luggage space and get reasonable gas mileage (compared to Vics and GMs). Toyota Sienas are particularly popular in New York right now.

    There is legislation pending in NYC to revamp taxi standards with an eye to better fuel efficiency and lower emissions. Mayor Bloomberg's goal is to convert the entire fleet to alternative fuels, good for him. I personally can't understand why they didn't go to diesels back in the 70s when gas prices started skyrocketing.

    2001 BMW 330ci/E46, 2008 BMW 335i conv/E93

  • writerwriter Posts: 121
    First, I should clarify that I have never worked in the taxi industry, but a long time ago, I did work for an engine rebuilder. So I did hear, second hand, how the taxi industry used their vehicles, and what they thought were good, and why. All the comments are about right, particularly how the "big sixes" were fairly common, and rugged was a central theme.

    I think the thing to do is start with a standard of some kind and then see how the job determines what is a better vehicle. So I have in mind as a standard, the old Checker Marathon, or more correctly, the '55 - '58 Chevys that the Marathon was based on. I do not have as much experience with the actual Marathon because I rarely saw it in Canada.

    The basic factors were, room for 3 passengers and a huge trunk. That carried through to the last cabs I had real experience with (as a passenger) which were the old Chey Biscaynes and equivalent Fords and Chrysler products (the classic big cars before the front wheel drives came along). Note that comfort and good looks are also serious matters for the bigger companies. The big companies (and the better small operations) realize that a good experience can get them repeat business. Cabs are kept as clean as reasonably possible, and yes, dents *are* removed from most of them fairly quickly.

    I think the Mazda5 is particularly good for downtown because it can hold 2 passengers comfortably and another 2 passengers, acceptably comfortably. If you have ever sat in the middle seats, of the Mazda5, they are not quite as good as a Mazda3. I am not sure exactly why, but that is what I felt. The back seats are harder, and you are supported only in your lower back and your head. The seats do not come up to your shoulders.

    But with more than 2 passengers, the luggage space disappears very quickly. With 1 rear seat up (3 passengers), you can stash, maybe 2 thick briefcases per passenger. That is a guess, but I am fairly confident about it. So you could take, say a lawyer and a couple of assistants to a court for a fairly big case. Or maybe 3 people to some other big meeting. But you would not want to try 3 people heading to an airport for a week's vacation. With 4 people, they would be with their computer cases on their laps.

    The other drawback is that the sliding doors have a hinge on the bottom which is exactly where you want to put your foot when you get out from the back seat, and that hinge specifically has a sign that says not to step on the hinge. In that regard, I would say that it would have been better if the Mazda5 in North America were sold with swing open rear doors. The car is narrow enough that such doors would be comfortable in most situations. Besides, bigger taxis have been in use for years with swing open rear doors, so there is no reason not to have them.

    The biggest advantage though, is that it is shorter in length and narrower than any vehicle that I have ever seen in use as a taxi in Toronto, and I expect, tighter turning as well. So, aside from acceleration, it should have an advantage getting around in bad traffic.

    The step height into the rear seat seems to be about 16" which is not quite as low as I thought, but still than a typical full-size minivan.
  • andys120andys120 Loudon NHPosts: 20,657
    Your comment about sliding doors makes me wonder how those popular Siena cabs are faring. Sliders seem to be fairly trouble prone in ordinary family usage. I can imagine they'd be a real pain in fleet service.

    I've come to detest the full sized vans used by many airport livery services. They are way too high to get into easily and have a really bad ride.

    2001 BMW 330ci/E46, 2008 BMW 335i conv/E93

  • writerwriter Posts: 121
    Sliding doors would be less desirable for taxis than families because in the case of taxis, passengers generally get on or off at a curb or other unobstructed location. The only situation I can imagine where a sliding door is any kind of advantage is when some of the Minivan style taxis take on or let off wheelchair passengers.

    The problems I have heard about sliding doors have all been obvious, particularly the dangers of injuring children when power doors are used.
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,600
    Scion xBs and xDs, and VW Rabbits might make good taxis for 1-3 passengers, since they're space and fuel efficient, easily maneuverable, and relatively low cost. Diesel versions of these vehicles would be even better. Larger vehcles, such as minivans, would be required for more passengers and luggage.
  • fezofezo Manahawkin, NJPosts: 10,376
    When I was in China five years ago there were tons of diesel Jetta taxis. They manage to put enough of us in one.

    The thing that gave me real pause is that not only do they drive with millimeters between cars and use the horn instead of the brake, but they only have seat belts in the front seats! I noticed that both the driver and our translator were wearing them which left the rest of us relying on prayer.

    I have to admit, though, that I didn't see an accident the whole time we were there.
    2015 Mazda 6 Grand Touring, 2014 Mazda 3 Sport Hatchback, 1999 Mazda Miata 2004 Toyota Camry LE, 1999.
  • writerwriter Posts: 121
    I have measured the step-up height in my 2003 Montana (standard length) when it was almost empty (carrying about 50 lbs. of random stuff) and the step-up to the front driver side is about 16.5". The rear height is harder to determine because it depends on whether you are aiming for the middle seats or the back seats. I measured it in the middle of the door and it was about 19.5". I would guess that the later Chryslers, and most other minivans in this size range are about the same. As I noted, the 19.5" is not really that much higher than the 16" for the Mazda5. I have been in a Ford E series van, but I did not measure the step-up height. It did seem to be a bit more than my Montana. But I would want to measure it to be sure.
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,600
    I had the same experience and similar observations in China in '04.
  • writerwriter Posts: 121
    Regarding minivans as taxis, first, I have been trying to estimate how many minivan taxis there are in Toronto and my estimate is that there seem to be about 1/4 of the taxis. I think I have been seeing more than 1/4, but I do not go downtown, so I am guessing that the minivan taxis are probably more in the suburbs.

    The exception is the taxis for the handicapped, which are probably proportional to the distribution of the handicapped population -- which is probably a fairly constant rate per capita. However, as I have pointed out, there are more minivan taxis around than just the ones for the handicapped, and I expect the rest of them tend to stay in the suburbs.

    The handicapped converted taxis seem to all be "Grand Caravan" size. The non-handicapped taxis come in both "Caravan" and "Grand Caravan" sizes. In case you have never really looked at the numbers, the regular "Caravan" size minivans are actually fairly close in size to current medium to large size cars. They are just taller. I found the following data using Edmund's databases. This compares a 2004 Malibu in its lowest cost form, against the 2003 Venture in its lowest cost form. Both are commonly used as taxis. The Malibu is the last version before the "Euro" version which is just being replaced in now in the 2008 model year:

    Exterior:
    2003 Malibu Std / 2003 Venture (base)
    Length 190.4" / 186.9"
    Width 69.4" / 72.0"
    Height 56.4" / 67.4"
    Wheelbase 107" / 112"
    Curb Weight 3,106 lbs / 3,699 lbs
    Turning Circle 36.3' / 37.4'
    Ground clearance 5.5" / 8.3"
    Gross Weight ? / 5,357 lbs.

    Interior:
    Front:
    Headroom: 39.4" / 39.9"
    Shoulder room: 55.5" / 59.8"
    hip room: 52.0" / 55.5"
    leg room: 41.9" / 39.9"

    Rear: [Venture Row 2 or 3?]
    headroom: 37.6" / 39.3"
    shoulder room: 55.3" / 61.9"
    hip room: 52.0" / 60.4"
    legroom: 38.0" / 36.9"

    Trunk volume: 17.3 cu. ft. / 19.9 cu. ft.
    Max Cargo Cap: 17 cu. ft. / 120 cu. ft.

    Engine: 3.1 litre OHV V6 / 3.4 litre
    170 SAE HP @ 5,200 / 185 hp @ 5,200
    190 ft-lbs Torque @ 4,000 / 210 ft-lbs. @ 4,000

    Fuel Tank 14.1 US gal. / 20 US gal.
    EPA (City/Hwy) (20/29) / (19/26 mpg)
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 23,561
    I didn't realize that the Venture was that small back in 2003. I think these days though, most "minivans" are around 200". Once upon a time, brands like Mopar and GM offered short and long versions of them, but aren't all the short versions extinct by now?
  • steverstever Posts: 52,462
    image

    (thanks Euphonium)
  • writerwriter Posts: 121
    Do you have a link for the announcement for that? I remember it, but back when it was news, I just was not interested in it. What company was it?
  • steverstever Posts: 52,462
    Sorry, thought I had linked it. :blush:

    MiniC.A.T compressed air-powered car (Straightline).

    Tata Motors is supposedly producing it for MDI, but it still sounds a bit pie in the sky. 2009 is the latest delivery date.

    Here's a NY Times story on it.
  • andys120andys120 Loudon NHPosts: 20,657
    I recently flew from NH to AZ. I had no trouble climbing up into the Siena that took us to the airport but my 90 y/o MIL sure did (there was no portable step to help us out).

    The 7-passenger diesel Ford Van that picked us up was a joke, very difficult to get in and out of for both of us, extremely hard-riding and uncomfortable with little room in it when full. I was unable to locate a seatbelt for myself. Next trip I will look into an executive car service (Lincoln Town Car).

    For ease of entry/exit certain crossovers might be superior to MVs. I find the Nissan Murano and VW Toureg very easy to get into. OTOH the Volvo C90 was a bit high and the Enclave I saw this week was taller than the SWB GMC Denali it was parked next to (!) I didn't bother to try the driver's seat because it looked like it would be too hard
    to get into. By contrast the Denali wasn't too bad (it had a nice wide running board to step onto).

    You should know I am conscious of this topic because I have a partial paralysis that makes it difficult for me to get into certain vehicles.
    Minivans

    2001 BMW 330ci/E46, 2008 BMW 335i conv/E93

  • writerwriter Posts: 121
    In #12 paragraph 3 I wrote "This compares a 2004 Malibu . . .", but in the data I identify the car as "2003 Malibu Std". The data is for the 2003 Malibu. I have a lot of data lying around for vehicles around 2003 because I started looking for a vehicle earlier this year (I started looking from about April 2007). I felt that I did not want anything newer than 2004 because most of the depreciation occurs in the first 4 years, so 2003 was the newest that I expected to buy. By coincidence, I think that 2003 is probably about the average age of the vehicles I see in taxi service lately too. However, when I was looking for the Malibu, I found the 2004 data first and did not feel that it was the exact age was that important, so I copied it down. After I wrote the message, I decided that I wanted the 2003 Malibu data instead, because it would make a better comparison, so I re-did my search and came up with the proper 2003 numbers. However, I missed that reference, so that is why there is an error.

    I will be posting a few more numbers regarding 2003 vehicles later.
  • writerwriter Posts: 121
    I think you can get steps (in the form of running boards) for most of the taller vehicles. I do not like steps for a few reasons. First, they can be damaged while parking, they are probably detrimental to aerodynamics (which costs you extra fuel), and lastly, depending on the installation, they can create new rust points.

    I have seen some minivans outfitted with a ramp for wheelchair usage. I did not pay attention to where the ramp is stored. This looked like a good, fairly inexpensive alternative to the power lifts.

    Maybe you could suggest that some of Edmunds' writers put together an article on step-up heights for various vehicles?

    By the way, I should clarify that my name "writer" was sort of accidental. I am a writer, but not for Edmunds. I picked the name because I was new to forums back when I signed up and it did not occur to me that I would not be able to change it later. It was a bad choice. Unfortunately, there is nothing I can do about it now.
  • writerwriter Posts: 121
    2007 was the last model year that Chrysler and GM made the standard size minivans, so if you run out tonight you can probably still buy a "new" one at a low price. For this 2008 model year the Chrysler and GM minivans will be "Grand Caravan" size, which is, as you say, a bit over 200" overall length and on a wheelbase of around 120".

    Ironically, Kia has just started selling a short length wheelbase version of the Sedonna, which means that if you want that size in particular, they have the only product on the market. Since they now have an excellent reputation, if there is any real demand for the size, they could make huge sales numbers on it. However, the Chev Equinox and Pontiac Torrent are so close to that size that GM expects them to take up the sales lost by the minivans. I think the only problem with this idea is that they do not offer a 3rd row seating option in the Equinox/Torrent.
  • lemkolemko Philadelphia, PAPosts: 15,306
    ...from cars to minivans, the drivers should change too! Back in the day they were gruff, tough-talking New Yorkers. Then they became immigrant drivers from the Middle East, India, and Russia. Now that they are using minivans, they can be suburban soccer moms who will need to moonlight as cabbies to pay for the ARMs that reset at a higher rate on their McMansions.
  • fezofezo Manahawkin, NJPosts: 10,376
    Uh oh. I can see it now - "If I have to stop this taxi somebody back there is going to be sorry.".....
    2015 Mazda 6 Grand Touring, 2014 Mazda 3 Sport Hatchback, 1999 Mazda Miata 2004 Toyota Camry LE, 1999.
  • writerwriter Posts: 121
    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.

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

    Minivans
    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: 121
    Corrections:

    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 Posts: 52,462
    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:
  • gagricegagrice Pahrump, NevadaPosts: 31,432
    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: 121
    "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: 121
    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.

    Conclusions:

    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 Posts: 52,462
    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
  • andys120andys120 Loudon NHPosts: 20,657
    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>

    image

    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.

    2001 BMW 330ci/E46, 2008 BMW 335i conv/E93

  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 23,561
    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: 121
    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: 121
    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: 4,600
    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: 20,657
    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.

    2001 BMW 330ci/E46, 2008 BMW 335i conv/E93

  • lemkolemko Philadelphia, PAPosts: 15,306
    ...had a very good taxi in the 1942-48 models. Packard also made taxis of their six-cylinder models.
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,600
    "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: 20,657
    The Crown Vic is extremely wasteful, I'll bet it has less passenger room than a Scion xB, or an Escape, for that matter.

    2001 BMW 330ci/E46, 2008 BMW 335i conv/E93

  • gagricegagrice Pahrump, NevadaPosts: 31,432
    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: 4,600
    "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.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 23,561
    Maybe Ford wants to discourage using the Taurus for taxi service, since it would hurt its image.

    That's a shame, because the 500...er, Taurus, would actually make an excellent taxi. Its trunk is actually larger than the Crown Vic's! As far as back seat comfort goes, the new Taurus seems almost limousine-like with regards to legroom. Much better than the Crown Vic, IMO. Plus, you have larger door openings, less of a center hump, etc. Now shoulder room is a couple inches tighter than the Crown Vic, so I guess it's a tossup. Two big people would be more comfortable in the back of the Taurus, but three short people would be a bit better off in the Crown Vic.

    The only area I thought the 500/Taurus came up short in was legroom up front. Seemed a bit tight for my tastes, but then I am kind of tall. Probably more than adequate for most people.

    I'd imagine that a Crown Vic could still take a harder pounding than a Taurus could, though. So when pressed into abusive taxi service, it might hold up longer, and be cheaper to operate in the long run. Still, as big, beefy cars of that type become more and more scarce, I see all sorts of other cars being pressed into taxi service, so maybe they can take it, too?
  • gagricegagrice Pahrump, NevadaPosts: 31,432
    One place the Crown Vic will shine over many other cars is cost to repair after a collision. Insurance should be cheaper than a lot of smaller cars. Crumple zones are a major expense in a minor collision.
  • writerwriter Posts: 121
    Would a driver let a passenger in the front seat of a cab in New York? I would not expect that. Cab drivers get attacked some times. If not, then the Crown Vic is only a 3 seater in normal cab use.
  • gagricegagrice Pahrump, NevadaPosts: 31,432
    Most of my cab riding was in Anchorage. I always jumped in the front seat. I guess it is not as uncivilized in Alaska as in NY. I do think it would be hard to get more than one in the front seat with all the stuff a cabby has laying up there.

    It will be interesting to see how people take to smaller taxi cabs like the Prius. They were very popular in Victoria BC.
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,600
    I observed on numerous occasions that taxi drivers in Europe, and also Asia, are not as rough on their cars as U.S. drivers are. There's a notable difference, on average. They may drive faster, but they have more respect for their cars. I don't know whether this is largely due to the difference in the price of fuel or to cultural reasons, but it occurred to me that driving style may be a key factor in the vehicles that are used as taxis, and a key component to increasing the fuel efficiency of our taxi fleet.

    Would gas guzzling Crown Vics be so popular - indeed, could they be justified - if drivers abused their cars less, by driving more gently? Not slower, necessarily; just more gently.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 23,561
    Would gas guzzling Crown Vics be so popular - indeed, could they be justified - if drivers abused their cars less, by driving more gently? Not slower, necessarily; just more gently.

    I dunno...that's an interesting thought. Do the taxi drivers in Europe own their own cars, or do they tend to be owned by the company? In the United States, there actually seems to be a mix. I had a friend in college whose father moonlighted as a Cabbie, for Yellow Cabs I think it was (black cars with yellow doors). He always used his own cars, which would be painted company colors. I remember him having an '83 or so Electra, and then trying to work on a Versailles, of all cars, to get it ready for service, but soon after buying an '86 or so Town Car that he was getting ready to put into service. Last time I saw my friend's Dad about 3 years ago, there was a late 90's Town Car taxi in his driveway, so I'm guessing he's still doing it.

    Seems to me that if you're using your own car, you'd be more gentle on it. But then, maybe that's one reason why these guys would get these cheap, sturdy, durable battlecruisers...so that they COULD abuse them, and could just get by as cheaply as possible. In those days, when gas was cheap, I doubt if a more economical taxi would have paid for itself simply in fuel savings, but today, with higher gas prices, it just might.

    Aren't cars typically more expensive in Europe, when compared to a typical person's salary? If so, that could be one reason the cabbies treat them better. If they're using their own cars, they want them to last, or if they're company cars, maybe the company gives them a lot of grief if they abuse them?
  • gagricegagrice Pahrump, NevadaPosts: 31,432
    I am not sure about cabs. I have used Cloud 9 shuttle to the airport many times. The drivers tell me the Chevy full size vans go 400,000+ miles before being replaced. Ford Vans rarely get to 250,000 miles. Not sure if repair is cheaper on the GM van or what. I would expect a Crown Vic to last at least 250k miles.
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,600
    I know that in some cases taxi drivers in europe own their own cars, because I chatted with some and learned this, but I don't know if it's typical or not. Regardless, I've ridden in cabs in numerous European countries, and in China, and I've never seen a driver drive in an abusive manner. Fast, many times, but not always. I've also experienced cabs that get uncomfortably close to pedestrians, cyclists, and other cars, but they seem to do it with great skill. As far as I recall I never experienced a jack rabbit start (adjusted for less horsepower), followed by slamming on the brakes, as cabbies sometimes do in this country.

    One difference is that the percentage of people who drive cabs as a career, and not in between jobs, or part time, is greater in some other countries.
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,600
    This discussion has been inactive for more than a year.

    Did anyone suggest Ford Crown Vic hybrids or diesels for taxi service? Since the taxi industry seems to like the attributes of these cars, adding a hybrid or diesel option, or, maybe even better, a diesel hybrid, would be a way to keep these cars in service. Sure, they would cost more, but since big city taxis are run around the clock, the incremental initial cost and higher maintenance costs (for hybrids) might be totally offset, or even more than offset, by fuel savings.

    A Lincoln Town Car version could serve the limo industry.
  • gagricegagrice Pahrump, NevadaPosts: 31,432
    There are thousands of Crown Vics running on CNG here in CA. Cops and taxi cabs. More plentiful than regular gas and cleaner than a hybrid.
This discussion has been closed.