Mayor Mike Bloomberg has announced a plan to require that all New York taxis be hybrids by 2012. This bid to greatly reduce the environmental impact of the 13,000 strong yellow cab fleet, is part of the city's larger plaNYC long-term sustainability program, which also includes the mayor's controversial congestion pricing proposal. Currently, there are around 400 hybrids patrolling for fares in New York's urban canyons. Among them are the Ford Escape Hybrid (above), the Toyota Prius, the Lexus LX400h (we've seen one), the Toyota Highlander, at least one Saturn Vue Green Line, and others.
Mayor Mike says that fuel economy requirements for medallion-seekers will increase to 25mpg in October 2008. In '09 the minimum rises to 30 mpg and also requires that the new cabs be hybrids. While the mayor's announcement formalizes things, we'd spoken to someone who purchased a medallion in the last year who told us that the writing was already on the wall regarding the hybrids. More and more medallions going up for auction were hybrid-only.
According to the Mayor, the financial sting associated with operators being required to shell out extra cash to purchase the greener vehicles should be defrayed by their associated fuel cost savings. AP puts that number at $10,000 per year when comparing a hybrid to a traditionally-powered taxi. And really, taxi duty in a highly-congested, stop-and-go urban environment like New York is the perfect scenario for a hybrid drivetrain, where the fuel-saving and emissions-cutting features are going to be maximized.
The only thing now is, maybe they should just paint 'em all green...