Some years back, the most-outdated version of a car was adjusted inside taxi-fleets without complaint or compunction. Sun-set models served as excellent choices for the taxis we adjusted in. But like everything else in the rear-view mirror, even this pattern is getting replaced with a proactive acknowledgment by major auto manufacturers.
The latest proof comes from the eponymous car of Indian roads for many decades – The Maruti.
It is being speculated that the new horse from Maruti’s stable would be of the taxi breed. Reports suggest that Maruti Suzuki’s soon-to-be-unveiled Maruti Ignis compact crossover may also be available with a ‘Taxi’ variant. This model, coming in both petrol and diesel options and both AMT and manual versions could be an exclusive model for online cab aggregators that can include, but won’t be limited to, Ola, Uber etc.
Interestingly, Maruti Suzuki has been busy inking partnerships already with the likes of Ola and Uber for the creation of skilled drivers. MSIL had been seen tying up with Uber for training 30,000 drivers over a period of three years on one hand and signing a MoU with Ola on the other hand to train aspiring drivers-partners.
The idea was to help trainees and Ola partner-drivers get commercial licences, financing assistance, apart from taking leads from Ola for equipping drivers with commercial driving training. Safety, emergency preparedness, driving in difficult conditions, basic driving skills, other aspects like grooming, manners and etiquette, efficient driving, pre-checks before starting to drive, risk readiness, defensive driving techniques etc were surmised to be focus areas here.
Speaking of taxis, one immediately conjures up the image of Maruti DZire which has been a prominent name in the commercial space and specially cab operators with the Tour name.
Something that triggered Hyundai, which has also been a name to reckon with in taxi parking lanes thanks to Santro, to work towards a cab-friendly Xcent compact sedan as a bare-bones taxi market offering as well.
The Hyundai i10 has made a lot of stir in this context too,
Meanwhile, Singapore has tested its first driverless autonomous taxi that has been developed by nuTonomy. The company, with a stronger technology DNA than an automaker streak, whipped on Renault Zoe and Mitshibushi i-MiEV electric vehicles and founded by two MIT intends to bring in robo-taxi service as early as 2018.
Uber is busy developing driverless vehicles with Volvo AB in a $300 million alliance and Israeli driving assistant software maker Mobileye NV is working in cohorts with Delphi Automotive Plc for a production deadline of 2019 as well.
Earlier and in global tracks, other auto majors have experimented with taxi-leaning models already. Mercedes and BMW have found their luxury stallions in upmarket taxi fleets too but Ford and Nissan have tried to embrace the market more aggressively.
There was the Nissan’s NV200 and the Ford Transit Connect (did you know that Ford might have tested the sliding rear doors here for over 250,000 door-slam cycles?)
Whether it introducing drunken-proof features for bar-hopping passengers or plastic-look floor for easy wash and maintenance, these models try to be minimal in features but tailor-made for cabs too.
Let’s see what Indian passengers get next. More Friday-friendly seats or clunky basics?