With good reason, it's often said that the toughest auto endurance testing in the world is in taxi duty on the streets of New York City (and Jakarta, and Beijing, and Rio).

While the New York City Taxi & Limousine Commission has pushed aggressively for high-mileage hybrids--mostly Ford Escape crossovers--to replace the low-mileage Ford Crown Victoria full-size sedans, there have been no plug-in taxis in the city.

That's about to change.

The city is joining with Nissan to test six 2012 Nissan Leaf hatchbacks in taxi service, starting next spring, and recently issued the official notice of its Electric Taxi Pilot Program to anyone who's interested in taking part.

The partners are seeking owner-drivers and fleet operators who want to participate in the pilot program. Each one will get a leased Leaf, at no cost, for up to a year.

New York City taxi cab

New York City taxi cab

The six Nissan Leaf compact five-door electric cars will go into normal service on the streets, using an existing medallion (to soothe taxi owners worried about additional competition, no doubt).

No word yet on whether the Leafs will have any restrictions on distance or duty, as Tokyo electric taxis sometimes do, or whether they'll operate on just a single shift a day or propose to use DC quick-charging to recharge their lithium-ion battery packs to 80 percent in an hour or less.

The TLC and Nissan will hold information sessions for interested medallion owners on November 9. Applications to be put into the "giant spinning basket" will be due November 30. More information is available on the TLC's website, as is the application

Next time, however, we suggest the TLC not describe the Leafs as provided "free of charge." That gives the wrong impression.


Follow GreenCarReports on Facebook and Twitter.