New Saga Taxi
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Back in May this year Datuk Noh Omar (and his Ministry of Entrepreneur and Cooperative Development) suggested that Proton develop a new vehicle designed to be used as a taxi similiar to the London Black Cab. The whole idea is that the Malaysian taxi system switch to this new standardized model rather than having multiple models like the Proton Saga, Proton Waja, Naza Citra, Renault Espace, Proton Perdana and even premium Hyundai Sonata and Nissan Cefiro taxis. According to Datuk Noh, this will help “standardize the image of taxis” in Malaysia.

Proton will be looking into the feasibility of the request and if possible, the Ministry of Entrepreneur and Cooperative Development will help “ensure take-up”. Ideally the taxi should also have a factory-fitted NGV system rather than with current taxis which have to retrofit the NGV system as an aftermarket addition to the car. In cars with smaller boots like the Iswara, the NGV tanks can take up a significant amount of boot space depending on the size of the NGV gas tank.

Firstly, the London Black Cab is only used in London. The rest of the UK, or rather the rest of the world uses conventional 4 door sedans or minivans as taxis. Do we really need Proton’s financial records to be plagued with yet another model that has a limited market?

Consumers purchase different types of cars for different needs, so taxis should use different models for different needs as well. A large and heavier taxi with lots of boot space and passenger room powered by a larger engine to move around with that extra capacity will be going around town wasting unnecessary petrol (or NGV) if it carries only one passenger on short trips most of the time.

A much better idea would be for Proton to offer a new taxi based on the new Proton Saga (sources inside Proton say one with a factory-fitted NGV system and a possible upgrade to a 1.6 litre engine is under development) for the purpose of short trips. Longer trips that require more passenger and luggage space can be serviced by larger models converted for taxi purposes like the Kia Rondo Taxi that we saw last year. It can be supplied by Naza Kia Sdn Bhd when it updates the Citra to the next generation Rondo. Just remove the option for the 3rd row of seats and use it for luggage.

On the matter of improving the images of taxis in Malaysia, the government can support this transition to the new models mentioned above by offering financial assistance and loans to taxi drivers for them to be able to afford the upgrade to a new generation of taxis easily. And while we’re at it, cut out the middlemen and give the taxi licenses to the people actually running the taxi services!

There is really no need to waste money and time on the R&D and production of a new specialised single taxi model that will serve nothing more than an ego boost to be able to say that we have our London Black Cab equivalent. It will be the case of the Eye on Malaysia emulating the London Eye all over again.

Related Reading:
Taxicabs of the United Kingdom