Nissan Begins Leaf Taxi Testing in New York City

Back in September Ford finally ended production of the Crown Victoria, ending the era of large, rear-wheel drive American sedans, probably forever. It has also created a huge gap in taxi fleets and police manucipalities across the country, as the Crown Vic served as the core of their fleet. So can an electric vehicle fill those mighty big wheelwells? Nissan thinks so, and is beginning a pilot program in New York City to study the feasibility of electric taxi cabs.A New Cab King Cometh?

Having already won the bid to build the next generation of New York Cabs with the NV, Nissan is looking towards an electric cab future now with the Leaf EV. The Leaf certainly has its work cut out for it as a New Yorki taxi cab. PBS reports that during the average 12-hour shift, a NYC cab drives around 180 miles. Many cabs are used for double shifts, and it is not unusual for these cabs to wrack up 70,000 miles or more in a single year. One of the main reasons the Crown Vic was so popular was its die-hard reliability. Not many vehicles can handle the rigors of taxi life, but the Crown Vic was King of the Cabs from coast to coast.

With its limited driving range (less than half what a typical shift calls for) and long recharging times, the Leaf isn’t likely to be an effective cab in its current form. But, if Nissan could develop a Leaf with 200 miles of range and a charging time of less than 12 hours, electric vehicles could represent a huge leap in terms of cabbie technology.

EV Cabs Have Advantages….And A Range Problem

The inherent advantages of electric vehicles, cheap cost and few moving parts, would represent a major windfall for taxi cab operators. The two biggest costs of business are fuel and repairs, and with gas still over $3.50 a gallon in many areas, taxi services have had to increase their prices just to make ends meet. A reliable, longer-range electric vehicle, even if it cost twice what a normal cab costs, would definitely pay for itself in the long run.

Perhaps Tesla should consider a special utilitarian version of the Model S sedan for fleet services. Even the base model has a 160 mile range, and the mid-range model with 220 miles would be more than enough for most cabbies. Plus it looks a hell of a lot better than either the NV or Leaf cabs. Of course, I imagine the fare wouldn’t be too cheap either. I think it is only a matter of time before electric vehicles start filling in for taxis on New York’s streets. The real question who will be the first company to convince cabbies to go electric? Because whoever can do that can capture a huge slice of the fleet sales pie, which will go a long way towards electric vehicle acceptance en masse.

How long do you think it is before we start seeing electric cabs on the streets of New York City?

Source: New York Taxi and Limo Commission via Autoblog Green

Christopher DeMorro

A writer and gearhead who loves all things automotive, from hybrids to HEMIs, can be found wrenching or writing- or else, he's running, because he's one of those crazy people who gets enjoyment from running insane distances.