BEIJING -- Car companies are lining up bumper to bumper to take on the coveted role of producing a new Beijing taxicab, the China Daily state newspaper said on Monday.
The Chinese capital has deliberated since 2002 on which models would become the new standard taxicabs, a decision that would give manufacturers access to a huge market.
"Many auto-makers from home and abroad are drooling over the city's taxi market, which boasts 64,000 cabs with a renewal rate of 20-30 percent annually", the newspaper said.
Candidates so far have been divided into two groups based on colour -- yellow or silver. Most Beijing taxis are now red.
"Insiders say color changes for the taxis are just the tip of the iceberg, indicating that a multi-million-yuan upgrade of taxicabs is near at hand," the China Daily said.
Beijing lags other Chinese cities such as Shanghai where taxis include BMWs and Volkwagen AG Passats. Most of the cabs now in service in the city are made by FAW Xiali Automobile Ltd. or are Citroen Fukangs or Volkswagen Jettas.
New standards may include minimum body and engine size, ruling out the Xiali and Fukang brands, the newspaper said.
The taxi upgrade is part of a modernization drive to improve the city's image and efficiency in preparation for the 2008 Beijing Olympics.