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Big Apple Looking for the Taxi of Tomorrow




As a one-time New Yorker, I’ve spent many a dreary moment, in a downpour, desperately waiting for a cab. But Matthew Daus isn’t just looking for any looking for just any hack. He wants the “Taxi of Tomorrow,” something cleaner, safer, more fuel efficient, and yes, even more comfortable to ride in.

The chairman of the New York Taxi and Limousine Commission, Daus has issued an RFI – a Request for Information, in bureaucratese – that could completely reshape the fleet of more than 10,000 yellow cabs that roam the streets of the Big Apple.

The goal of the project, he explains, “will culminate in the design and building of just what its title implies – the perfect automobile for use as a New York City licensed taxicab.”

Anyone who has squeezed into the back of one of a short wheelbase Crown Victoria, nose pressing against the plexiglass, will likely respond, “Amen.”

The city’s numerous cab companies, pressured by NY officials, have already been trying to find some acceptable alternatives. What was once a nearly uniform fleet of Ford sedans now features an array of vehicles, including Honda Odyssey minivans and a small, but growing number of high-mileage hybrids.

Going forward, though, the Taxi Commission, spurred on by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, hopes to come up with an entirely new vehicle. The Taxi of Tomorrow, Daus says, needs to be, safer, more fuel efficient, boast lower emissions, provide more comfort for the driver, smaller, yet offer more interior room, and provide a ”superior passenger experience.”

(That latter mandate could be met, right now, by holding down fares, we’d argue, and by hiring drivers who actually speak English and maybe, just possibly, actually know their way around the City.)

Perhaps the most significant parameter in the RFI requires that the new cab feature, “Iconic design that will identify the new taxi with New York City.”

Hmm, that actually sounds like another iconic hack, the London Taxi. In fact, it meets just about every one of the mandates New York has set. So why wait? Make a few tweaks to the design and an all-new London, er, New York cab wouldn’t have to wait until tomorrow.

For a look at the complete New York Cab of Tomorrow RFI, click here.
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Comments (13)
  1. Yes, like the london cab, but that vehicle has not proven to be able to withstand NYC. Plus the london cab is not very green.
     
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  2. A Mazda5 with a hybrid powertrain. Or a Siena.

    Too bad the Standard Taxi is so fugly. It is a remarkable vehicle. It seems this RFI is an implicit rejection of the Standard Taxi design, since the Standard meets so many of the basic requirements yet is not being adopted.
     
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  3. What's the return on interest for a car company to design a car just for taxis? We got to be talking under 50K units a year.
     
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  4. Chrysler should offer a four-cylinder, two-mode hybrid Dodge Caravan. Chrysler, for one, could use another 50,000 sales.
     
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  5. Long-wheelbase Ford Escape Hybrid, anyone?
     
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  6. The Standard TAxi does incorporate some interesting designs, but it is fugly, huge and not fuel efficient. Besides, it is only a concept, they have never built any. My guess is the Taxi Folks in NYC have an idea and if it were a vehicle already manufactured, it would have been adopted.
     
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  7. It's actually only about 11,000 units a year, which makes the business case pretty tough.
     
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  8. Bring back the Checker with a new, efficient powertrain
     
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  9. What about Fords new transit connect. Roomy, economical, inexpensive, and proven record in Europe. It would be an excellent choice.
     
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  10. Bio-diesel tdi 4 cil mini vans,to get rid of all fried stuff oil of restaurants!
     
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  11. The Transit Connect is certainly an interesting vehicle. Did not realize anyone knew about them. My guess is that FORD would have to be pro-active enough to relaize they already make a vehicle. We'll see.
     
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  12. As the author of Auto Repair for Dummies (Wiley) I am writing a new edition that will be the first "Green" car book. Having researched alternative fuels and vehicles thoroughly, I suggest (as a New Yorker born and bred) that taxis powered by biodiesel are the best answer. They are not only "clean" but biodiesel can be made from the grease from restaurants and other plant materials that would otherwise foul up the overloaded garbage dumps in the NYC area. Truly a recycling/clean air/affordable triple whammy for engaging our fleet of taxis as a positive factor in fighting global warming!
     
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  13. A interesting option are the compact minivans like Mazda 5 and Kia Rondo, but the hybrid cars are the winner choice: Malibu, Camry, Aura, Altima, Vue 2mode and Escape.
     
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