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Taxi 1

The taxi or taxi-cab, is a light vehicle which is hired with a driver. Originally, it was of course a coach, the predominant means of transportation for those who could afford it. Around the mid-19th century, before the railway arrived on the continent (earlier in England), the horse-drawn carriage or wagon was the only means of transportation over longer distances, basically for the last two thousand years.

In the rural Swabia, Robert Bosch's father operated an inn where it was possible to change the horses. The more railway lines that were built, the more the carriage was reduced to short distance transporting, whereby, it's open to discussion whether the horse-drawn carriage was the forerunner of the taxi or the omnibus.

The latter had, as an early motor vehicle, a great deal of difficulty providing a regular transport service. The engine-performance was too low, the drive-train and the brakes were too susceptible to breakdowns and the wheels were too narrow for the, often still prevailing muddy roads. In this case, it was somewhat easier for the carriage to change over from being horse-drawn, to having a combustion engine.

Indeed, the change-over was not done directly. In the large cities, the electrically driven taxi-cabs first of all asserted themselves. The battle of the concepts carried on longer, until after the turn of the century, then the combustion engine made it's breakthrough. The remaining coachmen, by the way, didn't fancy this at all, the motor-carriages were loud and caused their horses to shy.

From Stuttgart, out into the whole world ...

Daimler maintains, that they had the first motorised taxi. This was a two-cylinder Benz-Victoria with 3 kW (4 Hp) and a four-speed belt-gearbox, which was ordered from Benz by a haulage contractor. After just under one year it was delivered as a Landaulet (semi-convertible) and was fitted with the newly introduced Taximeter. It was first taken into service one month later in Stuttgart.

The expression 'taxi' comes from the French word 'taximètre', meaning tax or charge.

Now, what about the price? Well, Benz considered 5.530 Goldmarks as adequate, this would convert into a good €50.000 today, this was excluding the meter, which could only be rented. Nevertheless, the motor-cab was superior to the horse-drawn carriage which could only manage about 70 km/day. Apart from that, travelling in a motor-cab gave one the same status as being driven around in a Mercedes SLC today. 09/13

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