The vehicle in the photos is blue, but imagine it in New York City taxicab yellow, complete with a black checkboard stripe and mismatched fonts in the logo.

The Nissan e-NV 200 Concept electric minivan shown here could well be NYC's next taxi sometime toward the end of the decade.

The vehicle it's derived from, the Nissan NV 200 commercial van, isn't actually an official U.S. product just yet--although we expect it to be formally launched at next month's Chicago Auto Show.

But that didn't stop the NYC Taxi & Limousine Commission from naming the gasoline NV 200 its "Taxi of Tomorrow," with rollouts into the taxi fleet starting two or three years hence.

For New York's needs and commercial sale across the U.S., Nissan is making some changes to the NV 200 already sold in more than 40 markets around the world.

It will beef up the side pillars, aiming for a top rating on tough U.S. side crash-safety tests, and it will add several inches to the wheelbase. That will provide much more legroom in the passenger versions of the minivan.

The electric version isn't yet offered for sale anywhere in the world, though small test fleets are now being operated by the Japan Post Service and FedEx in London. But it was likely a major factor in NYC's choice of the NV 200.

Nissan e-NV 200 Concept electric minivan, 2012 Detroit Auto Show

Nissan e-NV 200 Concept electric minivan, 2012 Detroit Auto Show

It uses the same powertrain as the 2012 Nissan Leaf, including its 24-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack and front-mounted 80-kilowatt electric motor.

In the e-NV 200 Concept, that battery provides a range of only about 50 miles--versus the 70 to 100 miles in a Leaf--though the electric taxis are likely to be fitted with quick-charging ports that allow a fully depleted battery to be recharged to 80 percent of its capacity in 30 minutes or less.

Given the amount of time NYC taxis spend waiting in long queues at the city's two airports before picking up passengers, one or two airport runs a day might be enough to keep the electric taxi charged all day.

As for those cars that never make it to an airport? Hey, even taxi drivers eat lunch too.

As always, check out our dedicated Detroit Auto Show page for all the information on cars, concepts, and people at North America's largest and most influential auto show.


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