Ford eyes share of taxi trade with new Transit
Ford is hopeful that a bigger engine and carrying capacity, allied with similar costs, will turn its new taxi into a rival for the Toyota Crown that now dominates the Hong Kong market.
The US maker's Transit Connect has a 2,500cc engine compared with the Toyota's 2,000cc, but Ford says its model, powered by liquefied petroleum gas, is more fuel-efficient, so running costs should be the same.
The company has yet to announce a price, but Johnny Ng, managing director of dealer Inchcape which distributes both cars, says the Transit's price will be in line with that of the Crown - at about HK$200,000. Running costs should also be similar, he added.
Ng said Ford would invest in its repair and component unit so drivers and taxi owners would be able to get repairs and replacement parts easily.
Various dealers and carmakers have introduced different taxi models into Hong Kong, but the Crown continues to hold about 90 per cent of the market.
Mainland carmaker BYD's effort to sell up to 3,000 of its e-6 all-electric taxis by 2015 stalled after just 45 were bought after an incident in June when one of its charging points caught fire. It closed down all of its 12 chargers in the city pending investigation.
"We believe Ford will be more prepared than BYD, which has been slow in responding to incidents," said Ng Kwan-sing of the Taxi Drivers and Owners Association, which rented a couple of the BYD taxis.
"There is an ever-increasing demand for pre-booked trips to border points and Transit Connect's bigger luggage compartment and spacious interior should fill the gap in this market," he said.