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Taxi Times International - October 2015 - English

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CARS CARS A pleasurable

CARS CARS A pleasurable moment out of the rain: The Café Taxi was accessible without entry to the IAA. The future of the car: The new Toyota Prius+ for the short-term, the Mirai with fuel cells for the mid-term. LINKED DRIVER APP, SHARED TAXI The absence of taxis at the IAA International Motor Show is almost like a tradition. One of the few noteworthy exceptions were Mercedes and a taxi-app that will not leave the taxi circuits and associations out in the cold. In September of every odd-numbered year, the German Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA) organises the International Motor Show (IAA) for cars at the exhibition site in Frankfurt. This year, the 66th IAA was held with the theme “Mobility Connects”. Ten years ago, navigation devices were still the most advanced element in the dashboard. But these days, cars are computers on wheels. This was clearly evident in the latest Mercedes models. Daimler AG was the only automaker with a separate taxi exhibition that was presented at the trade show – before the IAA, to be precise. The idea was to get away from the trade show so that anyone without a ticket could visit the “Taxi” café pavilion. There were various Mercedes-Benz cars in their special exhibit “The Taxi” in the outdoor area in front of the west entrance. Mercedes taxis and private hire vehicles range from compact models to vans, with B, C, E and S-class models and the more spacious V-class models, Vito Tourer and Citan. Included in the range are the B and E-class models with natural gas engines. The new E-class is scheduled for market launch in spring 2016 and will also be available as a taxi starting in autumn 2016. The software and hardware supplier FMS from Graz was also represented in the taxi pavilion. Mercedes-Benz has developed a fully integrated hailing system in cooperation with the Austrian company. “We programmed a link connection with Mercedes that projects the driver app on the Mercedes display and can be completely controlled using the Mercedes system”, says Stefan Stipsits from FMS. The system can be operated via the vehicle controller; an additional display, cables and holes are no longer necessary. The application does require the circuit to have an FMS solution for the operators and that it uses to select the drivers. “The point is for the apps to be operable using the display in the vehicles”, says Stipsits. The system will be available starting in January 2016. TOYOTA CONTINUES TO UPGRADE Toyota’s redesigned Lexus GS 300h had its European premiere at the IAA. The hybrid limousine has a consumption of 4.7 litres, is powered by a 164 kW (223 PS) 2.5-litre petrol engine with a high-performance electric engine, and is Toyota’s taxi model for the luxury class. In addition to the GS 300h, the Japanese automaker also offers the hybrids Auris Touring Sports, Prius and Prius Plus, and the diesel models Verso and Avensis Touring Sports with a taxi package. Toyota’s focus is on alternative engines, as is clear from the selection of taxi models. “We are very pleased that taxi drivers like the Prius Plus. Every taxi ride is also a test drive”, says Toyota´s Olga Baumgarten. The electric mode lets you drive without consuming fuel, without emissions and nearly silently. Baumgarten says that the “comfort of the Lexus combined with the fuel economy of the hybrid models” makes it very popular. “We are surprised and pleased with its success”, says the Toyota marketing specialist about the car’s success in the sector. Toyota is taking another step into the future with the Mirai, which it presented at the IAA. With the Mirai, Japanese automak- PHOTOS: Florian Osrainik PHOTOS: Florian Osrainik Enjoying “undivided” attention: Employees at the Shäre-a-Taxi trade show booth. ers are offering the first mass-produced fuel cell saloon and bypassing the limitations of battery-powered electric cars. The Mirai, whose name comes from the Japanese word for “future”, can drive a distance of 500 kilometres after three minutes of charging time and emits only steam. The supply of hydrogen, the most promising technology of the future, is virtually endless; it can be made from waste and many natural base materials and is easy to store and transport. There will be 50 hydrogen filling stations in Germany by the end of 2015, and 400 are planned for 2023. Toyota chairman Takechi Uchiyamada believes that, in the future, “hydrogen will be what petrol was to the automotive industry during the first hundred years.” Nothing is impossible: FMS will soon enable a direct data transfer to the Mercedes-Benz display. THE “TAXI SHARING APP” The future of car engines could be hydrogen. But what changes will the taxi trade be facing? Are there new business areas in addition to new engine types? We found an answer to this question on the first floor in hall three. This is where the “New Mobility World” was located. Shäre-a-Taxi, a Munich-based start-up, was also taking part. The app was launched on the market in Munich in January, has been available in Frankfurt since September, and is cooperating with local taxi circuits. Three to four additional major cities in Germany will follow until the end of the year and there are plans to check out major cities elsewhere in Europe over the next few years – London und Paris in particular. Unlike apps such as mytaxi or gettaxi, Shäre-a-Taxi does not require the driver to have an app on his device. The advantage for the trade is that taxis will be less expensive for the customer, since the passengers split the cost, while the company and drivers receive the full price. The price and route are calculated by the app, so there is no need for discussion between the driver and the passengers, or among the passengers. The customers have to enter their destination and order a taxi for the same time. After the customers (Captain) hail the taxi and begin the journey, the app calculates whether it is worth it to share the journey with other requested travel routes. For example, the app might suggest a detour of three minutes to the customer that will save €15. If the customer shares the taxi with another passenger, the latter must be picked up at the agreed place. If the additional passenger is dropped off along the way or if both passengers have the same destination, the app calculates the fair price for each. A cashless payment is charged by the taxi circuit. This is a successful example of how taxi driving can be less expensive without resorting to legally disputed discount promotions. fo 22 TAXI OCTOBER / 2015 23

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