Choosing the right vehicle for your black cab or private hire business might seem daunting with so many options and uncertainty about the future of petrol and diesel vehicles.
But, whether you’re starting out as a taxi driver or are replacing an existing vehicle, it’s a relief that many of the decisions are almost made for you, helping you focus on getting the vehicle you want, whether it’s petrol, diesel or electric.
The aim for any taxi driver is to have an efficient and reliable vehicle that will carry passengers comfortably and safely and help deliver a service that will make them want to come back again.
The first step is to look at vehicles approved by the local licensing authority. It is pointless spending money on a car, limousine or minibus if it will not be allowed to operate as a taxi because of its age, accessibility or even its history.
Once you have narrowed down the vehicles that will be approved, the next step is to decide which are suitable for the type of taxi work you will be doing. If the are you will be operating in has congestion charges or clean air zones, it is worth choosing a greener vehicle, such as a hybrid or EV.
For those operating public hire vehicles, the iconic black cabs are a good starting point. While these dominate the London streets scene and must be licensed by Transport for London, the regulations are different in other licensing authorities. Traditional black-style cabs can be used in any city and other vehicles can also be licensed, but these must have an illuminated taxi sign and often have distinctive colours to help them stand out from private hire vehicles.
Budgets play a huge part in choosing a suitable vehicle. Not only does a taxi driver need to be able to afford the vehicle in the first place, they want something that is economical to run, especially in terms of mileage. It must also be comfortable for them to use and easy to operate to make each shift as pleasant as possible.
Business Motoring has looked at the most economical vehicles on the market, as rated by Auto Express. Topping the list is the Peugeot 208 1.6 BlueHDi, which averages 94.2mpg and would certainly give taxi drivers the most miles for their money. But while it might be the most economical, space is definitely an issue for the small hatchback.
Sticking with fuel economy, following the Peugeot are the Ford Fiesta 1.5 TDCi ECOnetic, Hyundai i20 1.1 CRDi Blue, Peugeot 308 1.6 BlueHDi, Renault Clio 1.5 dCi 90 ECO and Vauxhall Corsa 1.3 CDTI ecoFLEX which all average 88.3mpg, but again, which comes at the cost of space.
This is where drivers have a decision to make. The most economical vehicle might be a small city car but, depending on the type of taxi work they will be used for, will they be able to accommodate three or four passengers with bags or even suitcases? Do drivers want to be turning away fares because they won’t fit into their vehicle?
This is why larger family cars are typically ideal vehicles for taxi work and allow drivers the flexibility to do longer journeys, such as airport runs, something they might be unable to do in a smaller car.
The advice is to buy bigger and to opt for new, rather than second hand, as they are more reliable and are covered by warranties just in case anything goes wrong. In terms of reliability, Auto Express recommends the roomy Lexus NX MkI, the Lexus IS MkIII and the slightly more compact Honda Jazz MkII.
As well as taxi insurance, Patons has more than 20 years of experience supplying vehicles to the taxi fleet and is able to offer fantastic deals on a wide range of new and used saloon cars, hybrids, seven and nine-seater vehicles from leading manufacturers.
Having decided on the right vehicle, the final piece of the puzzle is taxi insurance. By law, taxi drivers must have public hire insurance or private hire insurance before they can pick up fares. The cost of taxi insurance will depend on the vehicle they are using and when and where they operate. The best advice is to shop around for taxi insurance by using a specialist broker such as Patons.
Having weighed up the alternatives, what will your next taxi be?