New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has been pushing for new and improved transportation for the city, with the most notable attempt being the implementation of the Taxi of Tomorrow, a modified version of the Nissan NV200 minivan. If Bloomberg was to have his way, all 13,000 of the city’s “medallion” taxis would go from the Ford Crown Victoria, which has been in wide-spread service since 1997, to the Nissan NV200.
Back in 2007, New York City officials outlined a plan to replace the Crown Vic and other taxis by 2014, since the old Ford was due to be discontinued by 2011. After Ford officially killed off the Crown Vic, Nissan stepped in and agreed to a 10-year deal with New York City worth $1 billion to use the NV200 passenger van as the city’s main mode of public transportation. Nissan beat out the likes of the Karsan V-1 and Ford Transit Connect to win the New York City taxi contract and everything appeared to be on schedule. Then, questions were raised about the legality of the NV200 and its lack of handicap accessibility. As if that wasn’t enough, people raised questions about the plan to summon taxis through a smartphone, which is likely to become a decision for the courts. Now, the whole project has been put on hold, as another suit has been filed on behalf of the Greater New York Taxi Association.
Thanks to a small loophole in New York City’s administration code, the Nissan NV200 hit a snag because it’s not offered as a hybrid. This provision states that New York City, “shall approve one or more hybrid electric vehicle models for use as a taxicab,” and any model that’s approved for use “shall be eligible for immediate use by all current and future medallion owners.” A few existing hybrid medallion taxicabs are exempt from Nissan’s new deal, however. To add insult to injury, the suit alleges that New York City can’t force what vehicles taxi companies purchase. The Taxi and Limousine Commission hasn’t disclosed how it plans to move forward with this case, but David S. Yassky, the commissioner of the city’s taxis, believes the original agreement will continue on as scheduled.
Automotive.com’s take: While we see why people would get upset with the implementation of the Nissan NV200, it can be upfitted for handicap use. Even if there are any Ford Crown Victorias left in good shape, state law calls for taxis to be replaced every six years, so the Nissan NV200, or whatever actually replaces the Crown Vic, will have to start entering service soon. It’s a fluid situation…so stay tuned.
Source: New York Times