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Old 27th February 2015, 08:36   #16
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Default re: The Curse of the "Taxi" Badge

Originally Posted by CrAzY dRiVeR View Post
So, in a way, it's the cars themselves than the taxi image to be blamed. .

India's market is maturing fast now, and I for one, do not think there is a Taxi image to be bothered about nowadays. Just because the cars are used as taxis, people don't stop buying it. As long as the car suits the needs of the person, he goes ahead and buys it, irrespective of weather its run as a taxi or not.

The common, misconception about Tata's having a taxi image is because, a 5 year old Tata even if private owned, looks and feels like a taxi. Not just because Tatas sold a lot of taxis, its because of the vehicles quality.

Some vehicles which are successful even if a lot of taxis ply the roads are:
  • Toyota Innova
  • Qualis
  • Fiesta
  • Dezire
  • Logan
etc.. etc.. I'm sure there are more. So, I feel, there is no 'curse' as the Taxi badge. As long as the car is performing, people will buy it, even if there are a lot of taxis.

Last edited by dhanushs : 27th February 2015 at 08:37.
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Old 27th February 2015, 10:48   #17
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Default re: The Curse of the "Taxi" Badge

Originally Posted by CrAzY dRiVeR View Post
To go one step further from the example of the Innova- some cars scream desirability even when they are available only on taxi plates. Need an example? The Isuzu pickup fits the bill perfectly. I guess that counters the sentiments of the thread that commercial plates destroy the aspirational value of a product. Or even a Jeep- if you want an older example. People like me from Kerala grew up watching Jeep taxi in action- but mostly in awe of its abilities to climb the kind of terrains it does!

In a way- some of these cars like the Etios, Verito Vibe etc would have been flops if the taxi guys had cared about the image factor like private vehicle owners. Rather than being cursed, I feel they were lucky to have aspirational value to the taxi crowd atleast.
Well said. It's that lacking desirability and aspirational value that kills a car in private domain.

That's why even if you see Mercs and Audis and Volvo's with taxi plates used by hotels, it doesn't matter.
Here are some Skodas happily doing taxi duty in their homeland.

The Curse of the "Taxi" Badge-aaataxi_1.jpg

Image Source: http://www.expats.cz/prague/czech/ta...ices/aaa-taxi/

Last edited by jetti : 27th February 2015 at 10:49. Reason: Including image source
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Old 27th February 2015, 15:00   #18
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Default Re: The Curse of the "Taxi" Badge

IMO the Innova is positioned as a premium taxi - a premium alternative to hiring a Tavera (let's not forget the Tavera cabs which are still quite popular).
Also, most of the Innova's are better maintained with relatively saner drivers, which only adds to its desirability.
That and a lack of direct competition!

And yes - at some point, we have owned some of the cars from the list. Trick is maintaining it well, and buying any shade other than white or black. Given how poorly some of these taxis are driven, people still give way to private 'taxis' - it's an added bonus!
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Old 27th February 2015, 15:13   #19
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Default Re: The Curse of the "Taxi" Badge

I think there is a misconception here.

As rightly pointed out by some BHPians, the so called 'taxi image' appears to have affected no one other than the Indica & Indigo. But well, that's not the real reason behind Tata's failures. The Manza wasn't offered as a taxi initially, but it still slipped. The Bolt & Zest haven't gotten off to a strong start in the market, and they're not even offered in the cab segment (yet!). The Aria bombed on debut. The only Tata product that the taxi market has no love for - the Safari - isn't the sales success that the Scorpio is.

Has the Innova been affected by the taxi image? No.

Is the 15,000 - 20,000 sales / month Dzire? No.

The Santro was a popular taxi, yet it sold 4000 / month until its demise. Mind you, it had more private buyers each month than commercial (a fact confirmed with Hyundai).

Was the Premier Padmini in the 80s & 90s? No.

You'll see an awful lot of Corolla taxis on our roads. Still, the Corolla outsells all of its competitors combined!

Also, don't forget that many cars make it to the taxi market only because they failed in the private sector, and their manufacturers needed to keep the assembly lines & vendors busy. The Etios & Logan are just two examples.
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Old 27th February 2015, 15:36   #20
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Default Re: The Curse of the "Taxi" Badge

There a bunch of white Mercedes taxis in Singapore. Needless to say white is NOT a preferred colour to buy a Mercedes in for anyone, especially considering how expensive it is to even afford a car there!

One thing not really discussed is that a car that flops in retail market can end up doing probably pretty well in the cab market. Am seeing a lot of yellow plate Sunnys these days, for example. Uber has gone and included the Sunny in its premium Uber Black offering as well (probably because of the rear bench space but still!) I would love to ride in a Renault Fluence cab for example. If that brings volumes to a car that is otherwise a dud, why not?!

Edit: cross-posted with GTO- he has raised the exact same point

Last edited by noopster : 27th February 2015 at 15:37.
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Old 27th February 2015, 15:44   #21
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Default Re: The Curse of the "Taxi" Badge

Another car worth mentioning here is the Xylo. IMO, a highly underrated car which further slipped in popularity after Mahindra decided to move it into Taxi segment. I have felt more comfortable getting in & out and travelling in the 3rd row of Xylo as compared to even Innova. There was a time when I was infact considering to buy a friend's Xylo (well-maintained). I now see it doing very well even in Taxi biz.

So, +1 to GTO's point that its the intrinsic value the car brings to the table which decides its success or failure - not the badging of Taxi

Last edited by @KP : 27th February 2015 at 15:44. Reason: typo
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Old 27th February 2015, 15:53   #22
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Default Re: The Curse of the "Taxi" Badge

Some very good points have been raised and I especially like the views put forward by Crazy Driver, GTO and noopster. However, just a couple of points:

1) As I mentioned earlier, the Innova had a solid and solitary ride as the champion of its segment and arguably remains the pick of the pride even today. So the Taxi badge didn't really dent its armour all that much.

2) Maruti clearly maintains two versions of the Dzire-the Tour, which is popular as a cab, and the regular Dzire. They have taken care to visually differentiate the Tour and strip it of equipments so that the "desirability" :P of it's regular Dzire remains intact. This is a car which sells crazy numbers and could possibly have evaded the Taxi badge anyways, but Maruti was not taking any chances.

I am not denying the fact that most cars which are used as cabs failed to get mainstream success for various reasons. Yet, occasionally when I see manufacturers putting in effort to differentiate their commercial offerings from others, the role of perception appears difficult to ignore.
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Old 27th February 2015, 16:06   #23
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Default Re: The Curse of the "Taxi" Badge

I was thinking of another angle too:

A good car that perhaps is a taxi for all the positives it has can simply become a bane when a passenger more often sees it in shambles - No working Tail Lamps, Jazzy LEDs, Cheap Sticker Jobs, Auxiliary Fog lamps, Bull bars, vibrating steering wheel and mirrors 'et al.

If we look around the roads today, we often see the Indicas, Sumos, Taveras or the Xylos easily influenced by the cheap modification bugs that the perception becomes a belief that they are indeed not worth as a car to buy, own or drive.

Not to forget the fact that apart from Innovas or Xylos, most of the other cabs are shabbily maintained, Often stink, rusted, dusty seats (Yes, they prefer rolling down and drive).

Over and above all these factors, there comes reliability and its not a surprise that we often see cabs breaking down on city roads. If we notice, these cars end up mostly at the FNG than the ASC. Its rare to find the Innova at an FNG while its more than just frequent that we spot rest of the lot.

To me, its a combination of perception, Brand image and the typical user base that matters when I buy a car and a lot of us do think that way.

Its no surprise that Bangalore roads perhaps has the least white board Indicas as compared to other cities in the state.

Its again no surprise that Gujarat loves Tavera more than the Innova when they talk about MPV while Tech cities where the buyer is young and tech savvy would prefer the Innova.

While I hopped onto an OLA Etios 3 weeks back, I spoke to the driver on his experience with the Etios and he was more than happy after he shifted from Indica mainly for the fact that the ownership expense with this new car was far lesser than what he spent on a used Indica. For him, the sheet metal thickness hardly mattered.

Last edited by paragsachania : 27th February 2015 at 16:12.
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Old 27th February 2015, 16:25   #24
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Default Re: The Curse of the "Taxi" Badge

There' s a point to ponder over in the OP.

Branding a car as 'Taxi' draws lot of heads waving in dissonance notwithstanding the fact that most of those disagreeing heads don't really have brains [ no offence ] to come to a 'knowledgeable' conclusion about cars. Their dissension really lies in the fact that they take just some superficial, half-knowledge observations as final.

This 'car stigma' is practiced in many parts of our country where it is not surprising to know that automobile literacy is painfully abysmal and the people will proceed to buy the cars on their face value.

Also it is pertinent to remember that CARS, in our society are more of a Symbol for luxury than a necessity where people are tempted to flaunt their 'toys on wheels'

I would like to share an experience of my friend.

He owns an Innova and one light, while returning from a party, he realized he was running out of cash. It was 2 in the midnight and he observed an ATM and decided to stop there. There were some 'software techies' who probably are done with their shifts were standing there, perhaps waiting for their rides to come. While my friend slowed down to pull over his 'INNOVA' , most of them waved their hand saying ' No need for a taxi' . He was baffled and too embarrassed to stop. HE just left the scene.

I know this sole incident doesn't indicate the mood of a whole nation, but then just sharing.

Last edited by poised2drive : 27th February 2015 at 16:35.
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Old 27th February 2015, 16:33   #25
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Default Re: The Curse of the "Taxi" Badge

I dont think we can completely ignore the effect of Taxi Image. I agree that in some cases, like in the Innova, the car 'outsells' the Taxi- perception, no doubt on its own merit. But we cannot generalize it for any car.

If there is no adverse perception at all, why does Maruti have a Dzire tour and a regular Dzire?
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Old 27th February 2015, 16:50   #26
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Default Re: The Curse of the "Taxi" Badge

I would also say it's just the mindset of People around us as well. After all, all Cars have their own value, and the way they are being owned, used & maintained - of course depends upon person to person.
Indicas & Indigos I feel run a lot around us as they are way too inexpensive to maintain (I rather feel they aren't maintained at all ).

Well observing the TeamBHP: "Live to Drive" badge on the rear right bumper of my Aquarius Fiesta 1.6S, I even get a lot of people asking me whether the Car's a Taxi!??
Let alone the type / version of the Car, they just don't have the patience to read what's written ! Dude, they too live around us.
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Old 27th February 2015, 17:10   #27
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Default Re: The Curse of the "Taxi" Badge

To me it looks like being a combination of taxi image and poor quality control. When poor quality control is coupled with taxi image, it just reinforces the idea that it probably the car was 'meant' to be a taxi by the manufacturer and not a private/ family car. This is why the Indica and the Indigo suffered. This is probably what saves the day for the Innova. And on the other hand, the image of primarily being a commercial vehicle maker did not help Tata back then as well. Probably the same hurt Mahindra too when they tried their hands at a sedan and a hatchback. However, both companies tasted success with Safari and the XUV.

I have seen lots of Santros and jelly bean Zens used as taxis plying between Mumbai and Pune as cool cabs few years back. Santro has penetration even in the regular taxi market, but it was never perceived as a cheap car and the jelly bean Zen was a massive hit as a hot hatch back in the day and at the same time being a family car too. Thanks to the acceptable quality standards on both the cars.

So, in my opinion what hurts most is:

1. General perception of the manufacturer - if a CV maker, it hurts. Snob value included. Difficult to break the jinx I guess.

2. Quality control - if poor, reinforces the idea that its not meant for families.

3. Taxi Image: If the car is rated negative in the above 2 conditions and at the same time is also a hit in the taxi scene, then most individuals would give them a miss as a family car.

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Old 27th February 2015, 17:45   #28
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Default Re: The Curse of the "Taxi" Badge

Call me the Devil's Advocate or an optimist seeing water in a half filled glass, my take differs.

Though I completely agree with the OP, Taxis are selected based on a certain major criteria s:

1) Reliable

Etios is considered to be a supremely reliable machine. Tab Cab Started the trend and now most of the other fleet owners have followed suit. Meru has likewise upgraded their Logans

2) Relatively Cheap to Maintain

Etios/Logan/ Earlier Esteems/ Indicas are all cheap to maintain and can be easily fixed by FNGs at reasonable rates.

3) Spacious

Take any of the popular taxis and they have one thing in common- Acres of Space

Ambassador, the Baap Taxi with Space of a football field or the Etios/Logan have good space.

4) Economical to Buy

Ford gave a good discount to the Fiesta(now Classic) and the Ikon to the Fleet owners. The discount was so good that part of the higher maintenance cost was covered.

So, again, to reiterate, though a particular car/brand may have a Taxi image, a person looking to buy a car and having shortlisted it, should not negate the buy only on the basis of its image but delve deeper and check the inherent features, understand why it is popular with the fleet owners and take an informed decision.
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Old 27th February 2015, 17:50   #29
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Default Re: The Curse of the "Taxi" Badge

The "Taxi" badge is simply a sales stat & a higher affinity purchase group influence. It's upon the quality of the product is what is the decider if the taxi perception affects the brand.

Case in point the old Indica. While it was the first attempt from Tata Motors to enter the passenger vehicle business, it was also at that time the most VFM car in the market. What has circulated in masses is an inferior product, to both the private & taxi buyers & hence the poor perception.

And more importantly, imagine you being a commuter in one of the taxi's. Considering masses, the state of the vehicle builds the perception. Not everyone would have an understanding that the wear & tear & upkeep of the car is not up to the mark of a taxi as opposed to what how a private owner would maintain. They would only see a car(Indica again for reference) in a poor shape. Strengthening further the thought process of why it's more common within Taxi buyers & not individual purchases.

I've recently traveled in Dzire, Logan/Verito, Etios, i10 & Santro as a taxi. The state of those vehicles doesn't deteriorate at the level of what an Indica &/or Indigo goes through & hence as a consumer myself, I see a well functioning "taxi"; which if it fits my need, doesn't obstruct me to go ahead for the purchase.

"Taxi Badge" is simply mass availability of a product IMO. It's maintained quality, what customers of Taxi see & feel, is what builds or demolishes the image of the brand.
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Old 27th February 2015, 18:14   #30
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Default Re: The Curse of the "Taxi" Badge

The Taxi badge does not make any car lesser. In India the budget rules everything. So the best car in the segment wins on price most times actually. Now this is what happens next. Indians believe in Shringar. And the money saved on the car is put on accessories, stickering and interiors.

'Chunnu munnu di papa di gaadi'.

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