VW eyes lucrative taxi market
Volkswagen SA has entered the taxi vehicle market with a diesel-powered, converted Crafter panel van.
A 23-seater passenger conversion is available that will be fully compliant with the government's more stringent compulsory safety specifications, effective from 2008.
Currently vehicles for the taxi industry need only be "substantially compliant" with these specifications.
VWSA's sales and marketing director Mike Glendinning expects between 30 and 40 percent of Crafter sales in 2007 to be to the taxi industry and this percentage to grow.
VWSA is confident it will sell about 750 Crafters between April and December 2007, a more than 20 percent increase in sales into this segment of the medium commercial vehicle market compared with 2006.
Glendinning said this estimate was based on 2006 sales of its LT panel van, which has been replaced by the Crafter. About 230 units of the 619 LT sales overall were to the taxi industry.
Glendinning expected VWSA to increase its market share of this segment to about 30 percent this year with the Crafter, which is being imported fully built up from Germany.
He said the Crafter had been homologated by the SABS and the body builders' homologation of the passenger conversion was virtually complete.
This conversion would take two to three weeks to complete and add about R53 500 to the cost. The prices of the four Crafter panel van models ranged from R227 980 to R296 930.