Nissan Taxi [and NYC] SkylineNew York City’s “Taxi of Tomorrow” was revealed at the New York Auto Show on Tuesday by Mayor Mike Bloomberg, and Kara Bloomgarden-Smoke asks in The Christian Science Monitor if other cities across the U.S. will follow suit. The futuristic taxi is a specially designed Nissan NV200 van, and although it bears the familiar color that has become known over the years as “Taxicab Yellow,” it looks decidedly different from the Checker cab that visitors and New Yorkers alike have come to associate with a New York City taxi.

Perhaps the best feature of the new cab is how much safer it is. As Bloomgarden-Smoke reports:

‘This taxi was designed from the inside out, and the result is the safest, most comfortable, most passenger-friendly cab to ever ride our streets,’ New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said at the unveiling. ‘For the first time, our city will have a cab designed for those who matter most — the passengers and drivers.’

In the Motor Trend article, “2012 New York Cab Confessions: Wildly Different Views of New York’s New Taxi,” Edward Loh quotes David Reuter, Nissan’s Vice President of Corporate Communications, regarding the new taxi’s safety features:

‘The NV200 will be the only NY Taxi to be crash tested with the partition installed. In other words, we’re not just taking an NV200, crash testing it and then hoping it perform well in crashes after all the equipment is installed. We’re going to crash test a fully unfitted unit which has never been done with a taxi,’ said Reuter in a written response.

He then highlighted the key safety points of the NV200:

  • Only taxi ever to be safety tested and certified with full taxi partition
  • Front and rear-seat occupant curtain airbags, and seat-mounted airbags for the front row
  • Standard traction control and Vehicle Dynamic Control
  • Sliding doors to lessen risk of pedestrians, cyclists and other motorists getting struck by doors opening unexpectedly
  • Lights that alert other road users that taxi doors are opening
Taxi of Tomorrow's rear (passenger) seat

"Taxi of Tomorrow's" rear (passenger) seat.

Loh also quotes Peter Valdes-Dapena, a native New Yorker who is a producer for CNNMoney.com, as saying: “It’s kind of scary to realize that today’s New York taxis were never crash-tested while equipped as cabs.”

Nissan’s 10-year contract with New York City for the cabs is estimated to be more than $1 billion, according to Bloomgarden-Smoke, who notes that the Nissan cabs will be phased in starting next year, and the entire fleet will be Nissan NV200 vans by 2018.

As for the question about whether the Nissan taxi will be purchased by other cities across the country, Bloomgarden-Smoke writes that taxi commissioners say they share ideas from various cities. She interviewed several in addition to New York City’s Taxi & Limousine Commissioner David Yassky, who said: “We put a lot of work into designing a taxicab that’s as good as we could get it for drivers and passengers. I expect that other cities will take a hard look at it, and I’m sure that they will be impressed.”

James Hunt, chief of environmental and energy services for the City of Boston, told Bloomgarden-Smoke: “We collaborate with New York and have worked closely with other cities to advance sustainable solutions. We have worked closely with SeattleSan FranciscoChicago, and New York.”

Washington, D.C.’s taxi commission chairman, Ron M. Linton, told Bloomgarden-Smoke that his city’s cabs need improvements in fuel efficiency and service quality. “We look at everything New York does,” he said. Although he hasn’t studied the Nissan extensively, he said it is “definitely forward-thinking.”

You can see a video displaying the new taxi and many of its features in a New York City setting here: http://taxioftomorrow.com/web/index.php

Image by Nissan Taxi of Tomorrow, used under Fair Use: Reporting.