It appears to have become “the new normal” for cab sales to average between 40 and 50 per week. If it continues at this rate, it would see around 1,800 new cabs joining the ranks each year. Even in the heyday of the TX1, and the last of the Fairways, we never even came close to this level of sales and its indictive of how much and how quickly the vehicle side of the trade is changing.
The delicensing scheme has had a massive effect. More than 1,000 older cabs have already been taken off the road and there’s another 1,500 in the pipeline to go.
Many of the fleets have capitalised on the scheme and have been decommissioning their older cabs. Cabs are now in short supply and some rental drivers have been forced into newer and more expensive cabs. Some of the fleets see this as an opportunity to change their rental agreements, get rid of bad debtors and accident prone clients by insisting on drivers being liable for either the excess or a flat fee on any accident claims. Others are even charging to transfer parking tickets or other PCNs into the driver’s name! One of the bigger fleets has started a “rent by the shift” scheme for TXes. This is where the driver books the taxi via an app and is shown where it is parked on the screen. The cabbie can only open the cab and start it up with an access code, which is sent via the mobile phone. The driver then returns the cab at the end of the shift, possibly leaving it on a charging point for the next driver. This works in much thesame way as short car hire schemes such as Drive Now and can be a little unsettling at first. But, this technology combined with telematic cameras, GPS tracking and the increasing use of hailing apps shows how quickly the game is changing and more than likely will become the norm in the future. The long-awaited Nissan Dynamo taxi may be about to be launched this summer. Several teasers have been drip-feeding out from the company on Twitter, although announcements have been made in the past only for the company to go quiet again. The main problem has been the soaring demand for the Nissan Leaf, which uses the same technology and production plant. Unfortunately, it seems the taxi version is not their priority. However, the Dynamo company appears hopeful of finally getting some cabs on the road and has said it plans to open its showroom doors in Colindale, NW9, on 17 June. The cab will appear at the established Northwest Taxi Engineering garage, which can be found at 12 Carlisle Road, NW9 9HD. The new dealership will be open from 10am to 5pm, Monday to Friday, and will launch its new website www. northwest-ev.co.uk on June 17. If this cab gets to market as promised, it is expected to be cheaper than the TXe, but more importantly, will offer some much-needed competition. Still, if you believe what you read in the media, it is the licensed taxi trade that is populated by dinosaurs and our competitors are the tech savvy ones; which is complete nonsense. The trade has long been an early adopter of new technology, since Hailo launched its app, and we are now way ahead of the game and it is others that need to keep pace with us.
Image: Mark Twyman