Mercedes-Benz commercial vehicles in Durban has finalised a multimillion-rand deal to supply 50 new Sprinter 308 CDi and Sprinter 416 CDi vehicles to taxi operators in KwaZulu-Natal.
The deal was financed by DaimlerChrysler Financial Services, the finance arm of DaimlerChrysler South Africa (DCSA). In addition, DCSA will provide driver training and business-skills advice to the new owners.
Thirty-two of the new taxis are already on the road and the remaining 18 are due to be handed over within the next few weeks.
More sizeable deals are on the horizon with the taxi industry for next year, said Dave Bufton, commercial vehicles sales manager for Mercedes-Benz in Durban. Bufton said the Sprinters had been converted to comply with the taxi industry's SABS requirements. The Sprinter 308 commuter bus is a 17-seater and the Sprinter 416 is a 23-seater.
The president of the KwaZulu-Natal Transport Alliance, Gerald Ferror, praised Mercedes-Benz for taking the lead and supporting the taxi industry.
Speaking at a function at the Mercedes-Benz dealership in Durban, Ferror said the taxi industry in KwaZulu-Natal had a proud history of independence.
"We thank DaimlerChrysler Financial Services for their vision in providing the full-package option for our members as well as for forming good business partnerships."
Kerry Elsdon, executive chairman of DaimlerChrysler Financial Services, said his company had aligned itself with the taxi association and wanted to help the industry to grow.