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The Inkanyezi conforms to the highest safety standards and the local conversion focuses on the latest technologies and efficiency. Picture: SUPPLIED
The Inkanyezi conforms to the highest safety standards and the local conversion focuses on the latest technologies and efficiency. Picture: SUPPLIED

September saw the first locally converted Mercedes-Benz Sprinter Inkanyezi roll off the line at an assembly facility in East London.

The popular 23-seater is available at dealers as a long-wheelbase 516 CDI starting at a recommended retail price of R980,829 including VAT.

The Inkanyezi — an isiZulu word for “The Star” — is backed by Mercedes-Benz Vans SA and fully supported in after sales by the manufacturer’s dealer network. The nationwide footprint is ideal for both short and long-distance taxi operators and drivers.

The Inkanyezi conforms to the highest European safety standards and the local conversion focuses on the latest technologies and efficiency.

Historically, customers who wanted to operate a Mercedes-Benz Sprinter as a taxi would have to purchase a Sprinter Panel Van, and then convert it into a passenger-carrying taxi. This process would take approximately two weeks, which added additional time before an operator could start generating an income from a vehicle.

With the new Inkanyezi being converted by Mercedes-Benz Vans SA, a customer benefits from being able to immediately operate the purchased vehicle, as it is supplied as a completely converted 23-seater to the Mercedes-Benz authorised dealer network for quick delivery to end customers. The long list of added advantages includes parts that are covered by the manufacturer’s warranty, a safer vehicle and a more durable conversion.

To make owning and operating an Inkanyezi as seamless as possible, the van’s optional extras, such as parcel shelves, USB ports and tow bar are plug-and-play and can be quickly fitted at dealers nationwide.

Elevated safety levels

Passengers will be safer than ever before, as the Inkanyezi comes standard with a robust seat anchorage system meeting the highest standards.

Adaptive Brake Lights are also standard on the Inkanyezi. In an emergency, the normal brake light turns into a flashing brake light, which is proven to be more eye-catching to other motorists than a conventional brake light.

Optional extras to bolster safety include active brake assist, Distronic active distance assist, parking assist and lane keeping assist.

Commuters can rest assured that their safety is a priority as the optional Parking Package with 360° camera makes light work of tight parking spots such as taxi ranks and other loading and offloading areas.

As additional optional extras, Blind Spot Assist with Rear Cross Traffic Alert, and a reversing camera with the display in the interior rear-view mirror, ensure that the Inkanyezi is safe at all speeds and conditions.

The optional multifunction steering wheel means the driver can conveniently operate the onboard computer. Picture: SUPPLIED
The optional multifunction steering wheel means the driver can conveniently operate the onboard computer. Picture: SUPPLIED

Functional while being comfortable

The Inkanyezi seating offers both driver and passenger comfort, thanks to high quality vinyl seats that are durable and easy to clean. The front cabin features a functional workspace for the driver and offers a relaxed environment for the front passenger too.

The optional multifunction steering wheel means the driver can conveniently operate the on-board computer. Various vehicle functions such as the state-of-the-art MBUX (Mercedes-Benz User Experience) multimedia system with a 10.25-inch touchscreen enhance the driver and passengers’ journey, including providing route guidance.

Getting in and out of the vehicle requires little effort, as the Inkanyezi is fitted with a side-step as standard. A hard-wearing Marley floor provides an anti-slip surface and protects the van’s floors from impact damage and scratches.

Perfectly balanced: powerful yet economical

The rear-wheel drive Inkanyezi 516 CDI is powered by a 2l, four-cylinder turbo diesel engine that delivers on its promise of power and economy, a combination that can directly impact profitability in the taxi industry. The vehicle offers 120kW with peak torque of 330Nm, available between 1,200 and 2,200rpm.

An ultralight fibre glass dome roof liner reduces the vehicle’s weight, which yields even better fuel consumption figures. The easy-to-clean dome shape roof liner not only maximises cargo space, but offers an even more comfortable area for passengers.

Low total cost of ownership

Being in the taxi industry where a high number of passengers have to be transported on a daily basis means that the Inkanyezi has a high utilisation rate. The vehicle’s efficiency provides a basic precondition for success in the tough and competitive taxi industry.

Some of the most important key figures making up the total operating costs of a taxi are the purchase price, fuel, maintenance and repair costs. The Inkanyezi is a master of all these disciplines, meeting every expectation of a profitable taxi operator.

Locally developed solution

The move to convert the Inkanyezi locally is Mercedes-Benz Vans SA’s commitment to the local taxi market. It is also a concerted effort in reviving the SA economy on the back of the ongoing lockdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The Mercedes-Benz Inkanyezi being locally converted signifies progress for the critical taxi industry,” says Marinus Venter, product and marketing manager for Mercedes-Benz Vans SA.

“It is estimated that more than 69% of local households use taxis for their daily commute and as an integral part of the public transport system, the taxi industry employs approximately 300,000 drivers and 100,000 taxi marshals. It also benefits in excess of 100,000 taxi washers and 150,000 vendors at taxi ranks,” he says.

There are 16 full-time employees working on the Inkanyezi’s conversion and additional employment opportunities will be created in the vicinity of the manufacturing facility, by developing the supplier network and the service provider sector.

“By streamlining and centralising the conversion of the Inkanyezi, we are taking care of the logistics, so that our customers can focus on their taxi business,” says Venter.

Warranty and servicing

The Inkanyezi’s service intervals are every 20,000km, and the warranty is a comprehensive two-year/unlimited kilometre offering.

Offers on the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter Inkanyezi 516 CDI are available from Mercedes-Benz Financial Services, a registered financial services provider.

For more information on the Mercedes-Benz Inkanyezi, visit www.mercedes-benz.co.za/vans.

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