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Posted by: Samuel Ndwiga on 13/07/2019

7 Best Cars for Taxi Business in Kenya

7 Best Cars for Taxi Business in Kenya

Before the introduction of Uber services, most taxi drivers were finding it hard to find clients. The CBD was awash with cars with yellow lines on the side, and a lit-up taxi roof light to signify the presence of cab services. Similarly, Kenyans had to walk to where the taxis are usually packed to access their services. Technology has completely transformed the taxi business as we know it by shifting the power to the people and the diligent cab drivers.  

Nowadays, you can order a taxi from your bedroom as you dress up for a meeting or even a date and expect them to pick you up at your exact location. While such features boosted the taxi industries, most of the companies making such services possible to Kenyans do not pick just any car. Uber, Little Cab, and Taxify, to mention a few, have stringent rules regarding the type of vehicles to use when on their platform. You can still offer taxi services without joining these platforms, but you need one of the cars on the list below to register a profit in the industry.

Before we delve into the vehicles that can help you make more money than your competitors in the taxi business, there are essential factors you should consider. These factors are heavily involved in the decision-making process of buying a vehicle, seeing they help an individual identify the specific vehicle that is best suited for their location. Simply because you saw a particular car make a lot of money for a friend on a visit does not mean the same will happen to you. Here are some factors to consider before deciding on the vehicle you deem ideal for your taxi business.

Factors to consider before buying a car for your taxi business

  • Define your audience

In this day and age of Uber, Taxify, and other online taxi service platforms, it is easier to define the customers you wish to serve. For starters, these apps provide guidance on where their services are most requested at different types of the day. Some people seek taxi services every morning to get to work or later on in the day or night. Locking down a location and the best time to operate will guarantee a constant flow of customers, who might turn into regulars.  

Alternatively, you can opt to provide your taxi services at major institutions such as hospitals or airports in your area.

  • The right space

If your ideal location is the airport, you need a taxi with enough space to carry more than two passengers as well as a lot of luggage. Luckily, most roads from the airport into town are well-tarmacked, and an electric car can help you save a lot of funds. You will not only slash down the price of buying a spacious vehicle such as a 4-door but fuel costs and maintenance as well. If your customers do not have luggage and simply want to move around inside the city, you can opt for a smaller car, such as the famed ‘Uber Chap Chap.’

  • Fuel efficiency

One thing most car owners regret after starting a taxi business is purchasing an expensive vehicle that guzzles fuel. The idea that there are a lot of customers in a specific area might prompt an impulse buy of the best car, but heavy fuel consumption will result in losses or little to no profit. Take advantage of the electric gas engines available and buy a vehicle that will not only help you save on fuel costs but help reduce air pollution in the process. 

  • Get the right driver

Gone are the days when people woke up early to not miss the bus, the taxi business has taken over, a good thing for both taxi owners and drivers. However, dishonest drivers are happier because they can make an extra buck cunningly and get paid as agreed every week or month. If you do not have a driver, you can trust, you should operate the taxi for a while to understand the business. As such, even after finding a driver, you will have an idea of what to expect.

Think of this as protecting your investment by knowing about the challenges and loopholes that are in the industry. With these considerations well thought of, you are now ready to select the vehicle that will suit your environment and vision when coming into the taxi business. 

Here are 7 of the best cars to use for taxi services in Kenya.

1. Toyota Axio

The Toyota Axio might come from Japan, but Axio is a Greek word that means ‘things with value.' The car is both affordable when it comes to purchasing and in terms of consumption and maintenance, as well. It consumes a liter for every 15 kilometers and is spacious, making it an ideal vehicle for taxi services in Kenya.  As a part of the Toyota Corolla E140 series, the Axio was mainly produced for export purposes, and as such, is very available in the country.

The Toyota Axio has a front-engine as well as a front-wheel-drive powered by the Toyota MC platform. As far as the transmission goes, the Axio has 5-speed manual and 6-speed manual transmission as well as a 7-speed super CVT-1, and 4-speed and 5-speed automatic transmission. Be sure to select the model that can handle your environment and guarantees fuel-efficiency.  

2. Toyota Prius Hybrid


Any hybrid car is perfect for the taxi business, but you need one that can switch between the electric engine and its gasoline counterpart with ease. The Toyota Prius Hybrid is an excellent example of such a car, seeing it will use a single liter to cover 25 kilometers of road; that's assuming you do not use the electric engine, which doesn't require fuel. It is also affordable and spacious and can reach top speeds and brake with ease. 

More so, their maintenance is not as costly as their diesel or petrol counterparts with good care. However, be sure not to purchase this car if you intend to operate it on hilly rough roads, they are ideal for tarmacked roads or urban areas. The Toyota Prius Hybrid is also in line with the global plea to reduce CO2 emission and make the transport sector more environmentally friendly. Even after the vehicle runs out of fuel, you can keep driving for a while using the electric engine until you come by a filling station.  

3. Toyota Belta


You can buy this car depending on your terrain and road conditions seeing it comes in threes (1000cc, 1300cc, and 1500cc). It is also cheap, easy to maintain, and one of the most common taxi vehicles in Kenya. The Toyota Belta was believed to be the smallest car operating as a taxi in Kenya until the arrival of Uber Chap Chap. The latter even became an internet sensation with trending memes flooding social media pages to date. 

However, it is not as spacious or as powerful as the Japan-manufactured Toyota Belta, which is also both compact and stylish. This car can comfortably carry four passengers and offers a considerable trunk space in case you wish it to operate around or inside the airport. The Belta also has a 1.3-liter 4WD engine option, which can come in handy if your route has more interior and rough road customers. The Toyota Belta is also affordable and easy to maintain, with spare parts largely available.

4. Honda Fit


A 1300cc Honda Fit is enough to get your taxi business running in Kenya. Considering the car was manufactured in 2001, a lot of taxi service providers such as Uber and Taxify have no problem accepting the vehicle as part of their catalog. However, there are over five models in existence since the 2001 release, including a 2019 subcompact hatchback that maybe not available in the country at the moment.

One of the biggest advantages the Honda Fit has over most cars in the taxi business is its fuel efficiency as a gas engine vehicle. However, it is rather small and does not require passengers with a lot of luggage. As such, the best route to operate this vehicle as a taxi would be in and around urban areas such as the city and busy towns. You can fold the back seats to create more luggage space when carrying one customer, but be sure not to carry items that are too bulky. 

5. Suzuki Swift

The 2012 Suzuki Swift is as cheap as they come, and at 1300cc, this car is very economical when it comes to fuel consumption. Even with this little power, the vehicle was once on Top Gear, a television show that tests the best cars on different terrain and weather conditions. It has an appealing design, a spacious cabin, and is very affordable, making it a cost-effective purchase that will attract regular customers with ease.

The Nissan Swift is also fuel-efficient; as such, you will be able to make more rounds and save more money as opposed to other vehicles with higher engine power. However, it is much lighter than most of the vehicles on our list and as aforementioned, a little short on engine power. As such, if this is the car you wish to buy for your taxi business, be sure the areas you want to operate around have good roads and favorable weather conditions. 

6. Mazda Demio

 

Just like its counterpart above, the Mazda Demio also has 1300cc and is very affordable. However, be sure to buy the fourth generation of the vehicle as it is the latest and the most likely to be accepted by various taxi companies. It is similar to Toyota Vitz in terms of appearance, but performance separates the two vehicles. In fact, there have been several comparisons in various debates regarding the Toyota Vitz and the Mazda Demio, with many believing the latter is a copy of the former.

Nonetheless, the Mazda Demio is comfortable and can carry up to five passengers, though we would recommend four for a more comfortable ride. It is also sleeker and comes with a luxurious interior and a durable four-cylinder engine. The Demio's exterior is also impressive, considering it won the World Car of the Year Award. A longer feral stance means improved fuel efficiency, and less road noise means little to no negative reviews regarding noise pollution.

7. Toyota Passo


I bet you have used this car at one point in your life after requesting an Uber. It is affordable and easy to maintain and a favorite for many drivers in the taxi business due to its low fuel consumption. At 1300cc, the Toyota Passo is the ideal taxi for upmarket areas, cities and town centers with fairly good roads. It might have been released in 2004, but the Toyota Passo has other models, including a 2015 version that is considered the latest of the bunch. Consider this vehicle not only because of its fuel efficiency but performance optimization capabilities as well.

The Passo also has a budget-friendly maintenance cost, which means with the vehicle as part of your taxi business, you are guaranteed to make more profit than your counterparts. It also has low force exertion, which helps prevent sudden accidents as well as a power steering that helps aid the same. The vehicle also comes with an anti-lock braking system, which comes in handy with regard to slip management.

According to the manufacturers, the Toyota Passo's interior was made with comfort in mind. As such, all the indicator meters, as well as the navigation systems, are in clear view of the driver. The Passo is also widely available in many parts of the globe, including Kenya making its repair and maintenance easier.

Conclusion

With the choices above, as well as the factors to consider before buying a car for your taxi business, you are ready to venture into the transport industry. However, take things slow if you are a first-timer; purchasing a fleet of cars at once without the experience of how the industry works can be catastrophic. Also, managing your vehicle is better compared to giving up the same to an organization that will slash your income as payment for their services. Lastly, be sure to make the decision that best suits your vision, not one that is influenced by trends or a friend. 

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