Since 2008, hundreds of Mercedes Vito vans have been modified and used as taxis in the nation’s capital. However, the latest figures suggest that Vito van taxis have now become so popular that they could replace the traditional London black cab.
The taxi market in London is worth a reported £50 million a year, which is why many manufacturers have been trying hard to conquer it with new taxi vehicles to challenge the LTI black cab. The big opportunity for the Mercedes Vito came when the LTI taxi’s owners called in administrators PricewaterhouseCoopers in October 2012.
In 2011, around 331 Vito taxis were sold. In the first half of 2012, around 324 new Vito vehicles were produced. Experts estimate that Vito taxis now have a 38% share of London’s new vehicle market, and that around half of all London cabs will eventually be Mercedes Vito vans.
Professor Garel Rhys, from Cardiff University’s Centre of Automotive Industry Research, believes that the LTI survived so long as a market leader because it was one of the only vehicles to meet what he calls the “archaic” driving regulations, including an 8.5 m turning circle, in London. He said:
“The Vito has shown that it could compete. It is a serious threat to LTI, the first in the post-war period,”