The Future of Taxis
It's estimated that the UK taxi industry is worth an all-time high of around £9billion. With interest in the taxi and private hire industry booming, the area presents a valuable, and relatively untapped area for investors.
For many years, much of the taxi industry saw fairly little innovation. However, in recent years, we've seen a shift in interest in the taxi industry. With companies like Uber and Hailo offering customers a new way to ride, new emission restrictions set to affect how taxi and private hire firms operate, and technology companies conducting ground-breaking research, the taxi industry could be in for a big change.
Here at The Taxi Centre, we've decided to take a look at what all these potential changes and innovations could mean for the taxi industry, and the future of taxis; take a read of our predictions below.
Driverless vehicles have been one of the largest and most talked about sectors or innovation and investment in the motor industry in the past few years, with most of the big manufacturers putting work into creating vehicles that vastly reduce the input of human drivers. However, research hasn't just been limited to the auto industry, with large companies like Google often being at the forefront of creating and testing the necessary technology.
Due to legal tangles and safety concerns, it's unlikely we'll see driverless vehicles completely take over the roads any time soon. However, if and when driverless technologies become commonplace, you can bet anything that driverless taxis will become a fixture. In fact, London could be set for a potentially driverless future, if the goals outlined in Transport for London's 2050 plan come into fruition. The document speculates that driverless vehicles could help the city to reach a "goal of eliminating death and injury on the roads', and also help to provide "taxi like" services at a reduced cost to consumers.
Although it's been speculated that autonomous vehicles could be on the roads as soon as 2018, the actual date is likely to be much further away. Driverless technology at the time of writing is incredibly complex and expensive to produce, before even getting into the infrastructure changes that would need to take place for vehicles to be able to safely drive on current roads. So, to any drivers worrying about being replaced by a robot, don't start to worry just yet.
Whether you like them or not, rideshare companies have arguably introduced a new way of ordering taxis to the UK. Previously, if you wanted a cab you'll have had three options; hail one down in the street, wait at a rank, or call up a private hire or mini-cab company and have your ride come to you.
For many years this has been the only way, with an alternative only being introduced fairly recently. With the ubiquity of smartphones, it was only a matter of time before you were able to order a taxi through a downloadable app, and it's perhaps surprising how long it took for this to become a widely known option.
Now, it's no longer just rideshare services that lead to a taxi being a few clicks away, with many local private-hire operators taking their services to the app store too. This represents a significant change in an industry that hasn't seen too much change over the years, providing an extra level of convenience to customers. Now, those who find themselves stranded in an unfamiliar city needn't trudge around to find a city cab, or ask around for a minicab number. After a quick search in the app store, you could be just a few clicks away from getting home.
With prospects like London's Ultra Low Emissions zone, many people will surely be considering investing in vehicles that are a little more eco-friendly. The zone has been created to help reduce the heavy pollution caused by vehicles in the city, which reportedly contributes to the death of around 30,000 people a year.
Set to come into effect "24 hours a day, 7 days a week" in 2018, the Ultra Low Emissions Zone regulations state that "all cars, motorcycles, vans, minibuses and Heavy Goods Vehicles will need to meet exhaust emission standards (ULEZ standards) or pay an additional daily charge to travel within the zone'. The zone will currently only affect a small portion of some of the most congested areas of central London, although there is pressure for further expansion.
The regulations mean that taxi drivers, who may have to travel through the zone out of sheer occupational duty, could end up paying a high price simply for working. With this in mind, drivers and private hire firms may need to switch their vehicles to those that meet the ULEZ standards in order to avoid paying a premium. It's already been announced that around £90 million will be spent to make sure that London's black cabs meet these standards, with a £250 million state of the art factory set to assemble around 36,000 new electric taxis a year.
It looks like concerns over pollution are set to be here to stay, and it's likely that other cities in the U.K could make moves to follow London's example. Eco taxi firms, albeit private hire, do already operate around the U.K, showing that the demand from consumers for taxi services that put less pressure on the environment does exist. With that in mind, more and more taxi firms could start to invest in hybrid and electric vehicles, to meet both public interests and the tightening laws of local authorities.
Whilst we might not quite be at the point where you can order a driverless electric cab by chatting to your phone or smartwatch just yet, the future is perhaps a little closer than you might think. For now though, why not check out the cars we've got on display at The Taxi Centre, before they start to look old fashioned.