New York City has held a contest of sorts to determine what will be the city’s future taxi. After going to the public and taxi cab owners, the city settled on the one design nobody else liked, the Nissan NV.
That sounds harsh, and I know Nissan makes a fine product. However, when New York City officials asked the public to pick a design, people drifted towards the Turkish-built Karsan taxi design (which I’m not sure exists save on paper.) The Karsan was also popular with advocates for the handicapped, as it offered dual mechanical ramps for ease of accent for the handicapable.
The taxi cab owners and operators, meanwhile, preferred the Ford Transit Connect, having been using Ford Crown Victoria’s en masse for the last four decades or so. If you want a durable vehicle, look no further than the Crown Vic. So it is only natural that NYC officials settled on the Nissan NV200, the third and final candidate. Nissan won out based on comparisons like interior leg and headroom, durability, safety and other factors, though how does one judge the durability of a vehicle that isn’t even sold in America?
Karsan had said it might build the cabs right in Brooklyn, and while Ford’s Transit Connect comes all the way from Turkey, it can be outfitted as a Taxi cab, right now, with a natural-gas engine (and Ford has already announced an EV version coming in a few months time. Nissan is supposedly working on an EV version of the NV200, and by the time these Taxis of Tomorrow hit the road in 2013, there might be an effective EV version in the stable. Maybe not. Either way, the NV200 will be built in Mexico, not America. Boo.
Instead of making taxi cab owners use the Nissan though, why not let them have the choice like they do right now? New York’s taxi cab fleet is a hodgepodge of Crown Vics, Escapes, Prius sedans, and other vehicles. By anointing a Taxi of Tomorrow, New York is tying itself to a single option, even after a judge shot down plans to force cab owners to purchase only hybrid taxis. What if, in two years time, GM or Hyundai or even VW comes out with an extended-range hybrid vehicle that would be the perfect taxi? Hell, the Prius V could have been a very viable taxi cab candidate once it hits the market. Too bad, you’re stuck with these Nissans for the next decade.
Granted, I’d railing against the winner had it been Karsan or Ford, as I just don’t believe in taking away choices from business owners. Yeah, the Nissan might be the safest and have the most comfortable ride, but most passengers are in and out of a cab in a matter of minutes. A poll on the New York Daily News finds that more people don’t like the Nissan design than do by a margin of 13 points (27% for versus 40% against) with 1/3 of respondents not carrying what the cab looks like, so long as it gets them where they are going. What are you thoughts readers? Wise move, bad choice, or ya just don’t care?
Chris DeMorro is a writer and gearhead who loves all things automotive, from hybrids to HEMIs. You can read about his slow descent into madness at Sublime Burnout or follow his non-nonsensical ramblings on Twitter @harshcougar.