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Japan Taxi has become a pricey Olympic symbol

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Japan Taxi has become a pricey Olympic symbol

Japan Taxi has become a pricey Olympic symbol

Toyota Motor’s Japan Taxi, born in a government committee and designed to be an all-things-to-all-people cab, has become a high-priced icon of Tokyo’s budget-busting 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

The company says it's a money losing project.

Grace Lee reports.


Japan Taxi has become a pricey Olympic symbol

These taxis have become an icon for Tokyo's 2020 Olympics, but a major headache for many along the way.

Launched in 2017 and designed by an official committee, Toyota's Japan Taxi was meant to be the cab for everyone.

It can accommodate travelers with luggage, foreign visitors of all sizes and people with wheelchairs.

Josh Grisdale says that's a gamechanger for people like him; until now, he had to travel in a specialized van instead.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) HEAD OF ACCESSIBLE JAPAN, JOSH GRISDALE, SAYING: "The most important thing, I think, is to have something available when you need it.

Up until now it has been much very that you would have to call way in advance and book a taxi and that is very difficult for people who are not from Japan because they can't speak Japanese and they don't know where to call and who to contact.

So having the accessible taxis around is definitely going to be a big improvement for transportation for sure." The car is decked out with heated seats, smartphone chargers, wheelchair ramps and even virus-killing air conditioning.

But, not surprisingly, it doesn't come for cheap.

It's got a hefty price tag of about $32,000 per car, almost a third more than the Crown model it's replacing.

For now, there's a government subsidy covering some of the costs but that runs out after the Olympics.

So Toyota is scrambling to use the Olympic sheen to sell them before the Games.

Ultimately, the company says it's a money losing project.

Only 2,000 Japan Taxis are being built each month - a small fraction of the cars Toyota makes every day.

They didn't have much luck trying to sell them overseas, either.

Toyota offered them to China's Uber, Didi Chuxing who loved the features, but didn't love the cost.

At the very least, the car's price tag is in line with Tokyo's Olympic spirit - of breaking its budget.

The 2020 games are expected to cost more than twice the initial estimate of $6.7 billion.

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