Last week, New York City’s Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) officially approved regulations requiring the replacement of retiring taxicab vehicles with the Nissan NV200 “Taxi of Tomorrow.” The new regulation follows what’s described as a “a rigorous review and competitive selection process,” in which cabs from Ford and Karsan were also considered.
Those submissions and the NV200 are each purpose-built urban transports already in use by couriers and other spritely delivery businesses.
Currently, the majority of New York’s 13,000+ taxis are Ford Crown Victorias with a mix of Ford Escape Hybrids, Toyota Sienna minivans and a handful of other approved vehicles sporting exotic yellow paint jobs. As it currently stands, about one third of New York City cabs are hybrids, and all of them feature OEM or retro-fitted technological niceties like backseat movies w/GPS mapping and credit card processing as required by the TLC since 2008.
As of next year, October 2013, the lot of them will begin the slow ride into obsolescence as the Nissan NV200 becomes the only approved big yellow taxi of New York for the subsequent decade, one purpose-built to meet or exceed all current TLC regulations and save the planet a bit in the process.
Nissan’s winning ride is the only entry to undergo “rigorous” testing (and presumably passing) while fully equipped as an actual taxi (as opposed to just a cargo van or passenger vehicle), complete with the all-hallowed partition separating driver from passenger(s).
Safety features include front and rear-seat occupant curtain airbags, seat-mounted airbags for the front row, traction control, sliding doors (lessening the risk of “door prizes”) with entry step and grab handles accompanied by lights that alert other road users that taxi doors are opening and passengers are probably exiting.
Powered by a 2.0L 4-cylinder engine, the Nissan NV200 comes with a 150,000 mile powertrain warranty. It is expected to reduce carbon emissions and enhance fuel efficiency across the entire taxi fleet as old models are replaced.
While cab riders may take comfort in such people- and earth-saving efforts, the NV200’s other passenger particularities will likely have a more intimate impact. The “Taxi of Tomorrow” will feature many ubiquitous creature comforts and high tech tools of today, including:
+ Driver and passenger intercom system;
+ Ample room for four passengers plus luggage;
+ Transparent roof panel (handy for skyscraper gazing);
+ Opening side windows;
+ Independently controlled rear air conditioning;
+ Active Carbon Lined headliner to help neutralize interior odors;
+ Overhead reading lights as well as floor lighting;
+ Mobile charging station for passengers, including a 12-volt electrical outlet and two USB ports;
+ Breathable, antimicrobial, environment-friendly, durable and easy-to-clean seat fabric (“simulating the look and feel of leather” no less);
+ Flat “no hump” passenger floor area for more comfortable ride; and, get this
+ A “low-annoyance” horn with exterior lights that indicate when the vehicle is honking (“so the horn is used less frequently,” Nissan claims).
Nissan has also collaborated with Braun Corp. to develop, engineer and produce “a creative solution for a wheelchair-accessible taxi in New York,” though there’s no word on how many NV200s will be lift-equipped or when.
But what surely has New Yorkers the most excited is Nissan’s reported new colour for the Taxi of Tomorrow: Yellow. Yes, yellow. Not just ordinary yellow, of course, but “a new, and brighter, shade of yellow thanks to Nissan designers in San Diego, Calif.”
As it turns out, yellow is a pretty tricky color to paint. “Yellow is a very difficult color because it is very vivid,” said Francois Farion, senior manager of color and design for Nissan, adding that the pigment is actually pretty expensive in comparison to, say, silver. For the Yellow of Tomorrow, Nissan had to consider pricing and repair issues and said that the process of settling on “the perfect shade of yellow” took about a year.
So next year, the iconic New York taxi might hail from a Yokohama brain trust, but the paint will be a purely Californian creation.
The NV200 itself will be 100 per cent Made in Mexico.