We now know what the future of the New York City taxi will look like. According to Reuters, the city's Taxi and Limousine Commission has awarded Nissan a 10-year contract to produce the vehicles. The Japanese automaker beat out both Ford and a Turkish automaker to cinch the deal worth more than $1 billion. Nissan will be responsible for building one single vehicle to replace the 16 models that are currently authorized to ferry New York City residents around the Big Apple. The company's design was based on the NV200, and the minivan is expected to begin arriving on the job in early 2013.
Reuters reports that Turkish company Karsan Otomotive was an early favorite thanks to its unique handicap-accessible design and full-panel glass roof. The automaker had also planned to assemble the vehicles in Brooklyn with union labor. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg is expected to make an official announcement later today.
*Update: Nissan's official press release has been added after the jump.
- Nissan chosen as exclusive provider of NYC taxi fleet –
New York is "hailing" a new era of urban mobility today, as the city with the nation's largest taxi fleet has selected Nissan to design and supply the next-generation "Taxi of Tomorrow." The announcements were made today during a City Hall press briefing that included Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Nissan Americas Chairman Carlos Tavares.
The New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) selected the Nissan NV200 as the exclusive taxi of New York City beginning in late 2013. The award comes after a rigorous selection process that occurred over more than two years. The competition built upon more than a century of taxi industry heritage to drive the design and creation of a purpose-built vehicle, tuned to the city's streets. The other two finalists included Ford Motor Co. and Karsan, a Turkish vehicle manufacturer.
"Nissan is proud to provide the next generation of taxis for the City of New York," said Tavares. "The NV200 taxi will give Nissan the opportunity to showcase our dedication to vehicle quality and urban mobility to more than 600,000 passengers every day."
The Nissan NV200 taxi will be produced in North America at Nissan's facility in Cuernavaca, Mexico. The Nissan NV200 taxi will be a modified version of the compact commercial vehicle currently available in global markets including Japan, Europe and China. Total manufacturer suggested retail price (MSRP) of the vehicle, with all planned standard features, will be around $29,000.
As part of the program, Nissan also will work with the City and taxi owners on a pilot program to study the use of zero-emission, electric vehicles as taxis. Nissan will provide up to six 100-percent electric Nissan LEAFs to taxi owners for testing in 2012 as well as the charging stations to support their use.
"The city's Taxi of Tomorrow is the Nissan NV200 – and it's going to be the safest, most comfortable and most convenient cab the city has ever had," said Mayor Bloomberg. "We started this process to leverage our taxi industry's purchasing power to get the highest quality taxi, one that that can expand and redefine the legendary image of New York City taxicabs. The new taxis will be custom-designed to meet the specific demands of carrying 600,000 passengers a day in New York City traffic and the vehicle meets the top priorities identified by the public in our on-line survey."
Planned innovations, which respond to direct input from drivers, owners and passengers, include:
2.0L 4-cylinder powertrain, engineered to enhance the emission performance and fuel efficiency of the taxi fleet;
Ample room for four passengers and their luggage, substantially improved over current taxi models;
A low-annoyance horn with exterior lights that indicate when the vehicle is honking, helping reduce noise pollution;
Sliding doors with entry step and grab handles, providing easy entry and exit;
Transparent roof panel (with shade) that will provide unique views of the city;
Independently controlled rear air conditioning with a grape phenol-coated air filter to improve cabin air quality;
Attractive, breathable, antimicrobial, environmentally friendly and easy-to-clean seat fabric that simulates the look and feel of leather;
Overhead reading lights for passengers and floor lighting to help locate belongings;
- A mobile charging station for passengers that includes a 12V electrical outlet and two USB plugs;
- A six-way adjustable driver's seat that features both recline and lumbar adjustments, even with a partition installed;
- Standard driver's navigation and telematics systems.
- Nissan also focused on passenger safety when designing the NV200 taxi. Key safety features include:
- Front and rear-seat occupant curtain airbags, as well as seat-mounted airbags for the front row;
- Standard traction control and Vehicle Dynamic Control (VDC);
- Sliding doors to reduce the risk of pedestrians, cyclists and other motorists getting struck by doors opening unexpectedly;
- Lights that alert other road users that taxi doors are opening.
With more than 13,000 taxis traveling a cumulative 500 million miles per year, durability was a key factor in the "Taxi of Tomorrow" selection process. Nissan will train taxi fleet operators to conduct routine in-house service and repairs, and Nissan Commercial Vehicle dealers will provide prompt service by providing the first available service bay to taxi operators needing service.
About Taxi of Tomorrow
In 2007, City officials convened a group of stakeholders, including representatives of taxi drivers, owner and passengers, to create a set of goals for the next New York City taxi cab, a project called the Taxi of Tomorrow. In December 2009, the TLC issued a "request for proposals," inviting auto manufacturers and designers to submit their best ideas for a purpose-built vehicle to serve as a New York City taxicab. At the end of the evaluation, the Nissan NV200 was selected and will be the next New York City taxicab for ten years, beginning in 2013.