Beijing mulls limousine entry to hire car market
The Beijing transport authorities are investigating the introduction of luxury limousines in view of the demand for high-end hire car services in the capital.
The Beijing Municipal Commission of Transport (BMCT) said its relevant departments are investigating the introduction of luxury limousines in view of the demand for high-end hire car services in the capital.
Beijing acknowledges market need for limousines
The recent proliferation of limousine service has caught the traffic authority off guard. BMCT has approved of the business model but stipulates that such operations must use qualified vehicles and personnel.
An official has conceded that there is a market for limousines but they must be differentiated from the 66,000 ordinary taxis as luxury cars requiring telephone or internet booking, offer one-on-one service, and charge more than regular taxis. Their pricing model is still under further investigation.
Guangzhou to introduce limousines
Guangzhou is the first city give the go-ahead to limousine service this year, allowing 2,950 vehicles to be added to the existing taxi pool within this year.
Guangzhou limousines are all luxury sedans at various grades – smart-choice class, comfort class, business class, and deluxe class – using car models ranging from Camry to BMW and Mercedes Benz. Starting prices range from RMB15 to RMB29 with surcharges for tolls and parking.
1. 5,000 limousines to ease taxi shortage
Traffic expert Kangming Xu suggests Beijing should immediately introduce 5,000 limousines to relieve acute taxi shortages in the taxi market that has plateaued at 66,000 vehicles for over 10 years.
2. Limousines and black “luxury taxis” should be differentiated
Unlike Beijing’s black “luxury taxis” that operate in largely the same manner and rates as regular taxis, albeit using luxury sedans, limousines should only take one-on-one bookings via telephone or online platforms at higher fare instead of cruise roads for passengers.
3. Changes limousines will bring to market distribution
Beijing University of Technology’s Traffic Study Center professor Yanyan Chen said the limousine service will become competition with regular taxis and hence a catalyst for their improvement. “The taxi operation system has been largely protected in an enclosed system to control their numbers for environmental and traffic volume reasons. As such, there is a lack of effort in lifting cost potential and service. Limousine service will divert some mid- to high-end passengers, giving taxis a run for their money."(Translation by David)