Formerly Hybrid-Hating NYC Cab Owners Slam Taxi Of Tomorrow...Because It's Not Hybrid (Yet)

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2014 Nissan NV200 Taxi, New York City's Taxi of Tomorrow

2014 Nissan NV200 Taxi, New York City's Taxi of Tomorrow

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New York cabbies love their hybrid taxis--they're far more efficient than previous taxi designs, and proving incredibly reliable too.

But those hybrids are under threat from Nissan's NV200 'Taxi of Tomorrow'--van-turned-cab which won a contest to provide New York City with virtually all of its cabs, two years ago.

The Greater New York Taxi Association wants the NV200 banned, since it's not yet a hybrid (though such a vehicle is on the horizon), and has brought a lawsuit against the city to ensure it can't be used.

In response, says The New York Times, a proposal from the city's Taxi and Limousine Commission means drivers would be able to use hybrids instead of the NV200--provided said hybrids had at least 138 cubic feet of interior volume.

That sounds reasonable, until you realise it rules out popular hybrid taxis such as the Toyota Prius and Camry. In reality, it rules out any vehicle that isn't a van--like the NV200--or SUV.

"These rules look like they have been created to short-circuit the litigation," said the Taxi Association in a statement. "We do not consider this to be a serious proposal."

The Association's lawsuit is based on the city's Administrative Code, requiring the commission to allow hybrid cars as an option for taxi operators.

The Taxi of Tomorrow will be the sole car permitted for virtually all operators--meaning hybrids would effectively be banned. The NV200 is not yet available as a hybrid--though there's one in the pipeline, along with an electric variant--and lacks the hybrid options' economy.

Instead, Nissan's replacement for New York's throng of hybrid taxis and dwindling numbers of gas-guzzling Ford Crown Vics majors on space (the same 138 cubic feet as the new proposal suggests) and passenger comfort. The car even features transparent roof panels--letting passengers stare up at the city's skyscrapers--and a "lower-annoyance" horn. The NV200's lack of wheelchair accessibility--a retrofit option only--has been criticized, however.

The Taxi Association's ideals clearly differ from those of the Metropolitan Taxicab Board of Trade, which tried to block the use of more efficient taxis a few years ago--following fights against a string of other regulations put in place by the city. It's clear that whatever works for some taxi drivers, may not work for others...

NYC's hybrid taxis still aren't ready to bow down yet though, and nor are the city's drivers and fleets. Should the city's proposal be rejected, it could be a lawsuit that decides what cabbies will be driving in the future.


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Comments (8)
  1. This begs the question… Why no NV200 hybrid option? It would be a logical option given regen braking efficency in stop/go urban traffic.

    Perhaps NY City is focused on eNV200 (EV model, with taxicab charging stands? Appears NY cabbies are not up to being risk takers when a city shows little concern to the operational cost (infrastructure & fuel) effects on small business operators.

    In somewhat related question: do NYC Taxi Fleets need to meet EPA, or NY State (part-177 reg) min. MPG & emission ratings? This would add interesting legal twist between City, State, & Federial transportation regulation!

    Left wondering… How many miles does a NY Taxi travel in a year? Also, Avg. number gallons fuel burnt per year?

  2. Get you facts straight! The author is unbelievably misinformed. Fifty percent of yellow taxis in New York City are voluntarily hybrids simply because they are more efficient. A small group had sued the city because they wanted until 2012 to convert. The my way or the highway mayor wanted instant gratification. The Court found the imperious billionaire mayor had overstepped his authority. Now the same mayor is saying you cannot voluntarily have a hybrid taxi. In this new lawsuit is from operators who have hybrid taxis that will have to be replaced with taxis with old technology internal combustion gasoline engines. There were the operators who had signed affidavits in support of the mayor when the mayor wanted all hybrid taxis.

  3. @John: I'm a NYC resident who's talked to hundreds of taxi about their cabs. Individual medallion owners now clearly see a payback from hybrids, and have gradually shifted over to them.

    It's equally clear that large fleet owners LOATHE hybrids, and have fought them fiercely at every step of the process, right up to the Supreme Court--simply because THEY don't have to pay for the fuel, the fleet *driver* does.

    I view the Taxi of Tomorrow as the TLC saying to them, We need to make cabs more efficient AND more pleasant for riders. If fleet owners--who have more political clout and deeper pockets than owner-drivers--want to fight, the TLC CAN legally tell them what car to buy. Your thoughts?

  4. By the way, 42 percent of yellow taxis in New York City are owned by a hard working taxi driver who owns and drives only one taxi.

  5. @John: Good point, had not known it was that high. Point me to the source for the statistic, please?

  6. Nissan reports that it has no current plans for a hybrid NV200 taxi vehicle. The city intends to lock in the NV200 for 10 years. What horizon are you looking at?

  7. @John: Nissan product chief Andy Palmer announced during a news conference at the NY Auto Show that Nissan had the capability to provide a hybrid version of the Taxi of Tomorrow if the TLC/City requested it.

    The company didn’t provide any additional details, but it has said it will launch 15 new hybrid models over the next several years--so the capacity is clearly there.

    In other words, if the taxi owners/drivers of NYC want a hybrid Taxi of Tomorrow, now is the time to speak up. Yes?

  8. I wonder if there is any data on how reliable Nissan's "clutch-IMA" hybrid system is compared to the Toyota/Ford power-split device hybrid system..?

    I think one of the reasons why the NYC hybrid taxis have held up as well as they did was because they were all PSD hybrids (Toyota Camry Hybrid, Ford Escape Hybrid, Toyota Prius and Prius V, and the discontinued Nissan Altima Hybrid which uses the Toyota Camry Hybrid PSD transaxle).

    The PSD transaxle is simple with an extremely low parts count for reliability. The Nissan clutch-IMA system is basically a normal drivetrain with either a CVT or multi-speed transmission but with two added clutches to engage/disenage the ICE or electric motor as needed, which is more complex.

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