New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Taxi and Limousine Commissioner David Yassky today announced the winner of the city's Taxi of Tomorrow competition: the Nissan NV200.
“It’s going to be the safest, most comfortable and most convenient cab the City has ever had,” said Bloomberg at today's press conference about the winning vehicle, which will feature a paint job that pays tribute to the city's iconic Checker Cab company, which closed last year.
“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," he added about the prize, which is worth $1 billion to the winning automaker.
"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 online survey,” the mayor added.
In other high praise, the city's press release notes the NV200's features that clinched the deal, including more passenger room than any NYC taxi ever, extensive safety testing, fuel efficiency, mobile device charging stations and transparent roofs:
"It will be the first cab with passenger airbags and the first to complete U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration crash testing with the taxi partition and taxi equipment installed. The vehicle has a many of first of its kind features: the most comfort for drivers and passengers – including more passenger room than any City taxi ever on the road and a smooth ride designed for passenger comfort; a transparent roof; charging stations for mobile devices; a high fuel efficiency rating; built-in GPS navigation and others. Additionally, the Nissan vehicle received high scores in the top categories identified as taxi priorities by nearly 23,000 people surveyed."
“Never before in the 100-plus year history of the taxi industry has its combined strength been used to drive the design and creation of a purpose-built vehicle, tuned to the streets it will be driving on.” said Taxi Commissioner Yassky. “For the first time, we’ll have a taxicab that wasn’t ‘off the rack’, but rather custom-tailored to create the best fit for the drivers, owners and passengers of our city. This is the heir apparent to the Checker, and people are going to fall in love with this taxi once they ride in it. It is going to represent New York City well.”
“Nissan is proud to provide the next generation of taxis for the City of New York,” said Carlos Tavares, Chairman, Nissan Americas. “The NV200 taxi will give Nissan the opportunity to showcase our dedication to vehicle quality and urban mobility to more than 600,000 passengers a day.”
The city's Taxi Licensing Commission also "agreed to permit taxi owners to place interim vehicles like the Ford Transit Connect taxicab into service as early as next month" while the NV200 fleet is prepared for introduction in late 2013.
Nissan aims to manufacture the NV200 — named the 2010 International Van of the Year — to run on electric-only power starting in 2017, although New York hasn't signed on yet.
First, NYC will test the use of all-electric powered taxis starting next year with six fully electric Nissan Leafs — provided free of charge by the automaker — to road test the electric vehicles. If the pilot proves successful, the city "will explore the possibility of the wider use of electric powered taxis."
Below, a 2009 look at a prototype for the NV200"universal design" and more recent promos from Nissan.