Nissan North America has won New York City’s "Taxi of Tomorow" competition to turn the city’s taxicabs from yellow to greenish.
The company will use the $1 billion contract to manufacture fuel-efficient minivans that can eventually run on electricity. The minivans will replace NYC’s 13,000 yellow taxis, which serve some 600,000 people each year – the cabs will be phased out over the next three to five years.
The Nissan minivan will be NYC’s exclusive taxicab for a decade.
In 2007, Mayor Bloomberg lost in his effort to convert the fleet to hybrids.
What Happened to the Plan for Hybrid Taxis?
Mayor Bloomberg, as part of his PlaNYC sustainability plan, wanted to mandate the city buy hybrids, but the Metropolitan Taxicab Board of Trade, which represents taxi owners, took him to court over it.
The US Supreme Court ended a four-year legal battle when they refused to hear NYC’s appeal of two lower-court decisions that struck down the mayor’s mandate.
The courts ruled that only the federal government could set fuel-economy and emissions standards.
About a third (4,400) of the city’s taxis are hybrids now, but they are privately owned, not city-mandated.
New Fleet Represents Compromise
Nissan’s NV200 will be a modified version of its NV200 minivan, and will be driving on NY streets in 2013. The vehicle gets 25 miles per gallon, more than double that of the current taxi fleet, which consists mostly of Ford Crown Victorias.
Fuel efficiency and emissions were not the primary criteria, but the NV200 is the most fuel efficient of the three finalists. It scores 6 on a scale of 10 on pollution, according to the EPA.
As part of the contract, Nissan will do a pilot to test an electric version of the minivan, which it is expected to manufacture starting in 2017. It will also provide about six electric LEAF cars for use as taxis as well as charging stations.
It will be the first cab with passenger airbags and the first to complete U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration crash testing with the taxi partition and taxi equipment installed.
It also features a lot more room, a smooth ride, a sun roof, charging stations for mobile devices and GPS navigation.
The new taxis will be custom-designed to meet the specific needs of NYC, based on the priorities identified by the public in an online survey: environmental sustainability; passenger comfort; safety.