DISCLAIMER: I’ve lived and breathed the ‘Ring taxi business for nearly a decade. Since 2017 I ran the Jaguar Race Taxi Nürburgring on behalf of Jaguar Land Rover Deutschland. The following opinions are my own, and mine alone.
Disappointment was palpable today when Hyundai finally launched their new-for-2021, Nürburgring Nordschleife taxi operation. For €199 a single passenger can book a lap in a stock Hyundai i30N hatchback. Yes, that’s a 1509kg FWD hatchback, with 271bhp on street tyres. For €199 per lap.
When COVID finally restrictions relax, I expect that you will be able to share that lap between up to 3 passengers. Although the performance of a fully-laden hatchback containing four adults might suffer a little(!).
There’s no news about drivers yet, but the Hyundai Driving Experience has no shortage of instructors with Nordschleife experience.
Back to that price though. I’m kinda shocked, to be honest. The problem isn’t that the price is unrealistic, it’s that the price is uncompetitive.
I know that the €199 ticket price is about right for the cost. If you want to run a business like that, with insurance for the passengers (something many of the taxi companies just get you to sign away, but manufacturers tend to pay for), that’s where you’d end up. But that price also signals that Hyundai might expect this new taxi program to pay its own way within the Hyundai Driving Experience business. I think they’ll be disappointed.
If they would have offered it for €99/lap, and projected a cost to this program, with limited laps per day or weekend, then the demand might have outstripped the supply, and the cost for the year could be predicted. Buzz would be created, markets reached. But it would be a cost for marketing, not a profit for the experiential department.
This price of €199 seems to signify that Hyundai are maybe a little unrealistic in their assessment of the competition, or that they’re not taking the project seriously and don’t care about getting bums on seats.
Not to blow my own trumpet, but… (incoming trumpet solo) in previous years my customers have enjoyed a variety of machines with RRPs ranging from free to €149 (I-Pace) to €199 (F-Type SVR and Range Rover SVR) and finally €249 in the Project 8 and XJR 575. Sure the I-Pace was ‘only’ 400hp, but they’re all premium cars and mostly 575hp or more.
This year Hyundai have to battle RingTaxi, Getspeed and the new Swiss guy (that’s a whole other story, for another time). With Jaguar’s “cheap” laps gone, the RRPs have all jumped to €299. That’s for cars like the brand new Porsche 992 Turbo S, or BMW M5 Competition.
So while there might be disappointment with the fans and on the internet, there will be no disappointment whatsoever at the competition. Hyundai missed an open goal, in my opinion. Their “fleet” includes TCR machines (still bookable for VLN taxi laps), WRC cars and even upcoming models like the RM16 concept. I hope that these are considered for future use, as its only the ticket price and the driver that could possibly make an i30N exciting in this company.