TRANSPORT: Mercedes Sprinter Fills The Taxi Gap
Recent Western Cape Business News
HOW will a football fan staying out of town, at Paarl, let’s say, or Durbanville or anywhere else not close to the main rail or bus routes, get to his expensive seat at the Green Point stadium in 2010? With difficulty, might be the answer. Or perhaps not till half-time, as happened to some unlucky fans during the Confed Cup earlier this year.
If so, South Africa is going to look very bad in the eyes of an expected international TV audience of more than 25 billion - not to mention many angry fans on our doorstep.
There just aren’t enough taxi and mini-bus shuttles, says Nicolai Berger, brand manager of Mercedes-Benz South Africa, whose Sprinter Inkanyezi taxi conversion model is the leading seller in this field. With some 450 000 football visitors expected from overseas, and a further estimated 250 000 from within Africa, it is obvious that we need to have many far more safe and efficient taxis or mini-bus shuttles available. Also, the tourism industry, e.g. hotels, guesthouses, shuttle services or tour operators have to prepare for the expected crowd during and after the World Cup. At present, he says, we are far short of that - and there are only 280 days left to get things right.
“Don’t leave it too late to order your new Sprinter or Vito,” Berger advises would-be purchasers. “Some vehicles will have to be brought in from overseas destinations - for instance Germany or Argentina, and that takes time. The clock is ticking.”
Using recommended Mercedes-Benz body builders and the highest quality standards, including the newly introduced mandatory roof escape hatch, Mercedes developed the Sprinter Inkanyezi (meaning ‘The Star’) as an efficient, cost effective and entirely safe conversion mini-bus, which complies fully with the latest regulations and standards, Berger says.
The Sprinter passed the stringent South African Bureau of Standards (SABS) regulated rollover tests with flying colours as far back as 2004. More recently, in July 2007, the new-generation further improved Sprinter NCV3 model again passed these tests, which are carried out to ensure that passengers are protected in the event of a rollover accident, the highest cause of fatalities and serious injuries on our roads.
As well as its outstanding safety and ease of use, the Sprinter offers variety and versatility. It is available with a choice of wheelbase lengths, heights and types of roof. With a permitted GVM of between 3.5t and 5.0 t, the new Sprinter covers all the major segments in its class.
Its standard equipment is a benchmark in its class, with power windows, central locking with remote control, a driver airbag, six-speed manual transmission, wide-angle mirrors and Adaptive ESP. It has now been further augmented by adaptive brake lights that start flashing when the vehicle is braked in an emergency, and flash for the duration of the emergency braking manoeuvre.
The Sprinter Inkanyezi, Berger emphasises, is a vehicle with a complete package geared towards the needs of taxi customers. This specialised package includes in-house financing from Mercedes-Benz Financial Services, preferential insurance rates and full aftersales and service support through Mercedes’ extensive dealer network.
Service intervals have been improved to 30 000kms, which is the benchmark in the van sector, and there is an improved two year, unlimited mileage warranty.
Mercedes-Benz has an extensive dealer network - 42 dealers nationwide - available to provide the necessary support to the taxi industry.
Many of the dealers in the metropolitan areas offer flexible servicing hours and have dedicated taxi service bays in their workshops.
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