Taxis signal how a local car industry is going

When Fiat was in the poo, I remember heading in to Italy and the cabs were a mixture of German and French cars, with a few Italian ones. Generally, it was a reflection of the state of the local motor industry: cab drivers are, perhaps subconsciously, patriotic and quite traditional. If they reject the local product, then that means trouble. (Look at New York: Toyota Siennas and Ford Escapes, which were originally engineered by Mazda, have an ever-increasing share of the market; compare that to when Checkers and Big Four brands dominated.)
   During my first visit to Sweden, most cabbies drove Volvo S80s, S90s and 960s. A few went for Saab 9-5s. Now, the home brands share space with Toyota Priuses and Mercedes-Benz B-Klasses. Again, it’s a reflection of the state of the Swedish car industry, with its American owners insisting Volvo and Saab sell large cars that did not conflict with their offerings from their sister Opel and Ford brands. The consequence is that as the world moved to small cars, Volvo and Saab had relatively little to offer. Even the patriotic cabbies had to buy foreign.
   It seems Spyker realizes the folly of this policy as it takes over Saab and vows to make the company a leader in automotive environmental technology, but the compact 9-1 still does not figure in its business plan formally. Will Geely realize the same when it comes to Volvo?

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2 thoughts on “Taxis signal how a local car industry is going

  1. Now I’m in a corner of Washington state that’s still considered semi-remote in urban sensibility, and so I haven’t visited Seattle/Tacoma (Sea-Tac) in a while, but… I’m seeing quite a few Priuses and generally small cars with taxi service here.

    Oh and of course the U.S. “Cash for Clunkers” got patriots with their knickers/panties in a bunch: people traded in domestic brands mostly for Japanese imports.

    Generally, I think this is a STRONG indicator that people are buying quite pragmatically… and I think cabbies are probably bound to that ultimately just to keep costs down. Really, I’m sure that although green tech is good press, it still boils down to a cab company using something that is economical on fuel and maintenance. I don’t know about Saab, but I am aware of Volvo’s good reputation of dependability.

    (However, the Toyota recall could shift things a bit…)

  2. Unless there’s a rule about how long one can keep a cab (there is in some New Zealand companies), I would choose something like a Volvo—isn’t there a statistic saying that there is a higher percentage of Volvos that have survived than any other brand? I see those Priuses on the motorway here sometimes and wonder about the environmental harm they are doing, lugging around extra weight from the batteries while working exclusively on their petrol engine.

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