The yellow taxi cab is a New York City icon, just like the Statue of Liberty or the Empire State Building. But just like those two landmarks, today's is in need of an upgrade.
In 2007, NYC officials taxi drivers, owners and passengers together to create a set of goals for urban transportation in a project called the Taxi of Tomorrow. In December 2009, the project issued a "request for proposals," inviting auto manufacturers and designers to submit their best ideas for a purpose-built vehicle to serve as a New York City taxicab.
After years of deliberation, it was the Nissan NV200 that won the honor (and $1 billion dollar contract) of becoming NYC's taxi cab for the next 10 years.
In an effort to reflect the input of hundreds of taxi owners and drivers, and thousands of passengers from all walks of life, the Nissan NV200 features:
- Spacious cargo area to accommodate luggage for four passengers
- A transparent roof panel to provide unique views of the city
- Sliding doors with entry step and grab handles for easy entry and exit
- USB charging access for passengers
- Independent, passenger controlled rear-seat heat/air conditioning with a grape phenol-coated air filter to improve cabin air quality
- Flat floor -- with no hump
- Enhanced interior materials intended to help passenger cabin smell fresher
- Breathable, anti-microbial, easy-to-clean and environmentally-friendly seat upholstery
Those hoping for a sleek, sexy taxi cab design that hearkens back to the Checker Marathon are likely to be a little disappointed in the Nissan's exterior, which let's face it, looks like a cargo van. But it's the interior that will put the smile back on NYC commuters' faces.
Passenger amenities include a 12-volt outlet and not one but two USB plugs for charging gadgets, a transparent roof (with shade) for sightseeing and “ample room for four passengers.” Drivers get a little love too, with a six-way adjustable seat, a navigation system and telematics. Everyone else will like the fact the NV200 has what Nissan calls “a low-annoyance horn,” whatever that is.
But the biggest benefit of unleashing the Nissan NV200 on the streets of New York City (in our humble opinion) is the incredible fuel savings, and as a result, reduction in carbon emissions.
Although the taxi will use a 2.0-liter gasoline engine, Nissan says an electric drivetrain could be installed on the same platform beginning in 2017. The automaker also will deploy six Nissan Leaf electric vehicles in the fleet at no cost to the city.
If you're going to be in the Big Apple this week, you can take a peek at a bare bones version of the Nissan NV200 taxi cab at the Nissan 'Taxi of Tomorrow' Design Expo at the pedestrian plaza across from the iconic Flatiron building. The exhibit will be open to the public Nov. 1-5 and features an interactive display that allows New Yorkers to fully experience new and unique taxi features developed for -- and with -- New Yorkers.
If you can't get to NYC, check out this virtual tour of the cab, complete with unnecessary club music: