The six donated vehicles begin a year-long pilot program as soon as next week, after installation of recharging units is completed. That includes charging units in the homes or garages of participating owner-operated taxis and fleets, and several fast-chargers in strategic spots around Manhattan, which can provide 80-percent battery power in around 30 minutes.
Taxis average 70-100 miles a day in NYC. The 2013 Nissan Leaf has an official EPA range of 75 miles (aka 84 miles), and probably more in the stop-and-go of urban traffic, thanks to regenerative braking, so drivers might not have to recharge at all during their shift. "We want to demonstrate that drivers can integrate the technology without losing business," said David Yassky, the city's taxi and limousine commissioner.
The first Nissan Leaf taxi driver, London-born Uppkar Thind, told me his 12-year-old son thinks the EV taxi is "cool," and that the vehicle is stable and sturdy. Thind was one of more than 100 owner-drivers and fleets who applied for one of six pilot program Leaf vehicles, which requires drivers to provide feedback to Nissan, the city and other governmental agencies and utilities. But that's a small price in return for avoiding the time and expense of gas pumps.
All participating drivers received training from Nissan on adapting their driving style for electric, including feathering both gas and brake to get full advantage from EV torque. All the pilot Leaf taxis are production models, to which meters and the taxi TV screens have been added.