Back in 2011, then-mayor Michael Bloomberg pushed a plan that would limit all new taxi purchases for New York City to one make and model. There are 13,000 taxis plying the streets of Manhattan, which makes NYC taxis a $1 billion dollar market for some lucky car maker. Bloomberg’s thinking was that directing all that business to one source would give taxi owners a negotiating advantage that would lead to lower purchase prices.
Whatever the merits of Mayor Bloomberg’s plan, opponents sued to block it and won. They claimed that the Taxi Commission did not have the authority to implement the plan. One presumes the opponents were primarily folks who make their living selling Crown Vics to the City’s taxi owners.
But now Wired has reported that the Manhattan Court of Appeals has ruled the Commission does have the power to put the Bloomberg plan into effect, and so the winning design – the Nissan NV200 van – will soon be what those hoping to hail a cab in New York City will be looking for.
The NV200 may or may not be the most perfect vehicle for taxi duty ever invented, but it has several significant advantages over the aging Ford Crown Victoria:
- It gets double the gas mileage.
- It has an activated carbon headliner to absorb noxious odors.
- It has two USB and 2 12 volt convenience ports for travelers to plug into.
- It has more luggage carrying capacity.
- It has separate climate controls for the passenger compartment.
- It has a large moonroof that gives passengers a panoramic view of the New York skyline.
- It has taillights that actually say “Vacant” when the cab is empty.
- The rear seat is covered in antimicrobial vinyl to inhibit the transmission of nasty diseases carried by folks who don’t bathe regularly.
One of the focal points for the opposition was that the NV200 does not yet have a hybrid or EV model. And while that is true, Nissan is hard at work on those issues, spurred on by the prospect of that $1 billion dollar payday. The Nissan e-NV200 is launching in Europe and Japan later this year, with trials ongoing in Portland, Oregon.
If you ask me, anything would be better than the flotilla of gas-sucking, fume-spewing Crown Vics that currently take paying passengers “east side, west side and all around the town”.