London taxi war hots up

Typical. You wait ages for a new taxi to turn up and then two appear at almost the same time.

Yesterday we reported that Nissan is to enter the London taxi market. Today Mercedes has replied with an announcement about the sales figures for its new-ish Vito taxi. Mercedes claims it now has 40% of the market for London taxis and implies it is going to become the number one choice.

These are certainly interesting times for London taxis. London Mayor Boris Johnson has announced that all taxis over 15 years old must be withdrawn from service from next month, while some local councils in London are urging a tougher 10-year limit. This should have led to a surge in orders for the traditional black cab, but now interlopers are appearing to steal sales.

Remarkably, London Taxis has responded by selling 1,000 black cabs to Baku, the capital of the Central Asian state of Azerbaijan, best known for hosting the most recent Eurovision Song Contest. It would be very strange if the traditional London taxi ends up as a more common sight in one of the most obscure capital cities in the world than in London.