New Yorkers, your next taxi cab is here--and it's a van.
We can imagine the epithets spewing from the South Bronx to Staten Island, as the venerable Ford Crown Victoria will eventually be replaced by a Nissan van based on the NV200, which Nissan recently introduced to the American market.
Nissan won out over Ford's Transit Connect Taxi and an entry from Turkish maker Karsan in a city-run contest.
All of New York City's fleet of 13,200 cabs is expected to be phased out by 2018, with the Nissan replacing both the Crown Vic and hybrid models. Mayor Michael Bloomberg's selection has not been without criticism, as taxi companies say they would prefer to have choices beyond just one model. Disability advocates are also unhappy, since only the Karsan entry was wheelchair accessible, although some of the Nissans could be modified.
The Nissan cabs could also be eventually updated to run on electric power, and New York officials are touting the extra passenger legroom, plus the extra cargo space (officials claim that there will be room for luggage for four people), as bonuses of the Nissan cab. Not to mention the onboard outlets and charging stations for smart phones and laptops. A panoramic window will give passengers more visibility.
The city was not legally allowed to pick a winner based on fuel economy, but officials estimated that the Nissan could get 24-26 mpg, doubling the efficiency of the Crown Victoria. The Nissan was crash-tested with the driver's partition already in place and will be the first cab in NYC history to offer passenger airbags.
One city official, City Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, has called for an investigation into the selection process, since one consultant previously worked for Ford and Nissan.
One wonders if the Manhattan souvenir shops will replace model Crown Victorias with the NV.