Specialised solutions employed in taxicabs include taximeters; radios and mobile data terminals; back office systems that support dispatch, customer relationship management and fleet logistics; and other equipment such as passenger information screens and card payment systems. Some equipment such as roof-signs can be low in cost and technical complexity, while installations of on-board computers can cost several thousand euros per vehicle. In many jurisdictions, taxi regulators have mandated the use of less familiar devices such as fiscal cash registers, trip monitoring computers and time-keeping equipment.
The report includes individual profiles of the fifteen countries that make up the most significant markets for taxicab technology. It also examines key factors influencing the sector such as products, technologies, legislation and industry structure. According to the report’s author, Raef Mac Giollarnáth, a Principal Consultant with Limatel, the market is highly complex, primarily due to the diversity in the regulation of taxicabs from one European country to another. “It is the local regulation of the sector, rather than inter-firm rivalry, which is the primary driver of expenditure on technology. Obviously regulators can mandate certain equipment but their influence goes far beyond this. Licensing conditions can also indirectly influence the equipment market by determining quota controls on vehicle numbers, requirements for dispatch affiliation, the ownership of licenses, the monitoring of cab operations and the control of working hours.”
Mac Giollarnáth states that by far the largest segment of the market is for communications, dispatch and management systems. “The cab industry is migrating quickly from voice dispatch to data dispatch, with some voice support remaining. Data transmission facilitates the greater automation of a host of other functions from order-taking to payment processing. This is increasing the value of the average installation.”
The research also suggests that more modest segments of the market are set to see strong growth. Taximeters constitute a significant market, and demand is growing as more vehicles become subject to metering and as a new generation of taximeters are produced to comply with the European Measuring Instruments Directive. Regulators are also making increased demands on taximeter manufacturers in terms of interaction with other equipment and software requirements that monitor drivers as well as fares.
The report explains how payment card transactions can be hugely profitable, especially where drivers are permitted to apply a surcharge to the metered fare. The proportion of cabs accepting cards is rising, and Chip and PIN processing of payment cards is becoming more common, as more card schemes oblige merchants to upgrade from lower cost card processing solutions.
Analysis of the deployments of digital screens in Europe’s taxicabs for advertising and entertainment shows that the market is in its infancy but that it is growing strongly. In North America, the cost of in-vehicle monitors and supporting infrastructure has been justified by using the installations to offer payment card processing; it remains to be seen if European operators will follow a similar business model.
The report describes how licensing authorities are now mandating new deployments of supervisory equipment across the continent, and Mac Giollarnáth believes that this will provide new opportunities for those manufacturers with an understanding of the relevant markets. “Taxicab regulators, tax authorities and enforcement bodies are now aware of the ability of new technology to automatically monitor the activities of drivers. In Europe, specialised equipment is used to monitor the hours worked; compliance with licensed shifts; fiscal record keeping; and the recording of individual trips including the automatic recording of the origin and destination of each journey. The use of technology to closely monitor cab activity has become cheaper and more effective in recent times: for this reason a growing number of supervisory systems are likely to be deployed in the years ahead.”
The most noteworthy finding of the report is that the use of technology in Europe’s taxicabs is so diverse. Some taximeter manufacturers and global radio producers have succeeded in establishing a pan-European presence, but other markets are dominated by little known regional operators whose innovation and understanding of local requirements have given them a leading position. They include manufacturers of on-board computers, fiscal meters, and cashless payment solutions, as well as the providers of dispatch and management systems that are tailored to local market needs and languages.
Although Mac Giollarnáth’
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Raef Mac Giollarnáth:
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About Limatel: Limatel is a boutique management consulting company based in Ireland. They provide a comprehensive suite of services to a range of sectors from telecoms to transport. For further information on the report, TaxiTech Europe or on Limatel’s other services, please visit: http://www.limatel.com
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Limatel is a boutique management consulting company based in Ireland. We provide a comprehensive suite of services to a range of sectors from telecoms to transport.