Do you remember the E20? Chances are if you ever took a taxi in the eighties you would have taken a trip in the E20, Nissan’s Minibus Taxi. The E20 was exceptionally popular due to its strength and value for money. The E20 sold around 71 000 units in South Africa between 1973 and 1996 before Nissan stopped selling them in SA.
But Nissan is about to make a massive return to the South African Taxi industry with the NV350, the spiritual successor to the E20. Nissan is planning to make the NV350 a leading option for South Africa’s taxi industry which transports around 15 million people a day and provides employment for around 400 000 people.
In order to get the buy in from the taxi industry, Nissan is not just relying on nostalgic memories of the E20; they have reignited their connections to the taxi industry through their public involvement protect. This project is similar to the one that brought us the amazing designs behind the IDx. This time Nissan is getting the public, with the taxi industry in particular, involved in the naming of the NV350 – something that no other minibus company has done before.
But the real question on everybody’s lips is whether Nissan can compete with the cheaper Chinese imports. Nissan is certainly hoping so! Nissan has not only been doing a heavy public relations drive with the naming of the NV350, they have been planning their return to the South African taxi industry carefully by heavily investing in research and design to ensure that their new taxi is perfectly suited to the South African taxi market. What these modifications are will only be revealed later this month at the official launch.
Nissan is also hoping that the NV350 will appeal to the local taxi industry through Nissan’s reputation for reliable quality vehicles and great fuel economy. The development of the NV350 has also seen Nissan making their taxi more user-friendly by allowing the seats to be removed easily. Since taxi drivers hire the taxis from the taxi owners and whatever they make over the hiring cost is their profit, drivers are always keen to make additional income. The majority of their daily income comes from peak hours, leaving the drivers with little work outside of these hours. By allowing the seats inside the taxi to be removed easily, the drivers can now make additional income through deliveries or transport of other goods. What long term effect this will have on the taxi industry is unknown, but there is the possibility that this will shift the working patterns of many drivers.
Nissan’s Nv350 is going to be released at the end of February 2014.