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The Nissan NV200 that will supply the New York City taxi fleet for the next 10 years.
The Nissan NV200 that will supply the New York City taxi fleet for the next 10 years.
Image: AP Images

New York City gets a suburban makeover - with Nissan taxis

Iconic yellow taxi fleet will be replenished with fuel-efficient models from Japanese giant.
May 4th 2011, 2:35 PM 1,276 0

IT LOOKS LIKE something you’d see on a suburban cul-de-sac, not inching through Times Square. A boxy minivan made by Nissan will be the next iconic yellow cab in New York City.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced that the model, selected from among three finalists, is designed so that it could eventually be updated with an electric engine. The city is exploring the possibility of ultimately replacing its entire fleet of more than 13,000 taxis with vehicles powered by electricity.

Bloomberg conceded at a City Hall news conference that the minivan — which offers extra passenger legroom and enough trunk space for the luggage of four people — might make some think of suburbia, but he said the distinctive yellow paint job will make them New York icons.

The minivan features a panoramic overhead window that will give tourists a view of the city’s skyscrapers and onboard outlets and charging stations that will allow professionals to treat the cabs as mobile offices. With such amenities, Taxi and Limousine Commissioner David Yassky said he believed the vehicles could become as beloved as the Checker cabs of yesteryear. He said:

Not a week goes by when somebody doesn’t say to me, ‘Why can’t you bring back the Checker? The cars that are on the road today just have not generated the same type of affection and passenger loyalty.

The anchor of the city’s current fleet of more than 13,200 taxis is Ford’s Crown Victoria, which was recently discontinued.

The Nissan van, which beat out proposals from Ford Motor Co. and Turkey’s Karsan, will be phased in beginning in 2013 as older taxis age out of service. All current taxis, including the city’s hybrid cabs, will be off the streets by 2018.

Although the city was not legally allowed to make its decision based on fuel efficiency, Nissan’s vehicles would double efficiency to 25 miles per gallon from the Crown Victoria’s 12 to 13 miles per gallon, the mayor said. The Nissan was the most fuel efficient and the cheapest of the three finalists, and is expected to cost about $29,000 — with an anticipated $1 billion in total sales.

- AP

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