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November 21, 2013

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Expo taxis to stay on road to next year end

The planned early phase out of Expo taxis is being delayed for a while — at least till the end of next year.

Shanghai taxi companies had blamed high maintenance costs for phasing out the van-like taxis by end of this year, only to discover that there was no market for them.

Shanghai has around 3,000 Volkswagen Touran taxis that have plied the roads since the 2010 World Expo and were to be phased out by 2014-end. But their costs of maintenance prompted taxi companies to consider replacing them earlier.

Shanghai Haibo Taxi Co owns 640 Touran taxis and had put the first batch of 50 taxis up for sale earlier this month. But the company was forced to suspend its plans as the Tourans were given the cold shoulder in the used-car market.

According to a sales staff who works in the second-hand market, only seven or eight cars had been sold in the past two weeks. They were sold for 40,000 yuan (US$6564) plus add-ons, with renovation charges and insurance alone costing another 10,000 yuan.

A fender-guard of a Touran costs 1,000 yuan while that of a Santana, the more prominent of all the taxis, costs one-fifth the price. Haibo said it will now wait till end of next year to put them out of service as per the original plan.

Another taxi company, Shanghai Qiangsheng, owns 1,000 Tourans and Dazhong has around 700. Both the companies confirmed yesterday that they will keep the taxis on the road till the end of 2014.

Shanghai Jinjiang Taxi Co, told Shanghai Daily that it may even delay the retirement for their 600 Touran cars even past their scheduled time.

“The Expo taxis are popular with passengers and our drivers also like the higher seats and find them comfortable to drive,” said Li Jie, a Jinjiang Taxi employee.

Li said their 600 Touran taxis are in good shape as the company has a maintenance team to specially monitor the cars since they were first put into use in 2010. If possible, they plan to extend their service life till at least 2015.

The city’s traffic management authorities have been assessing new taxi models with Volkswagen Lavida the preferred choice. But costs and maintenance are a factor and taxi companies will decide on the models only after new regulations  are put into place.



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