by Jacques Gordon, mananging editor MACS ACtion Magazine
Did you know that Nissan has signed a contract to be New York City’s sole supplier of taxi cabs for ten years? That is a mighty fat contract, and a good reason for Nissan to begin importing the NV200 cargo van platform. Small cargo vans have long been popular in Europe, while the U.S. market is still small but growing, courtesy of the Ford Transit (also imported from Europe). The NV200 was introduced here last year as the e-NV200 electric vehicle, and its gasoline-powered version went on sale this year. Beginning in 2014, it will be New York City’s “Taxi of Tomorrow.”
Cargo van platforms can be adapted to a variety of applications by the OEM or the aftermarket. While Nissan developed the taxi on their own, they contracted Braun Corp. of Indiana to equip part of the fleet with wheelchair lifts. The standard NV200 has sliding doors, ideal for taxi duty in a crowded, busy city. Special equipment includes exterior ‘door open’ lights, a rear-seat airbag system, rear-seat climate controls, a big glass panel in the roof and special carbon panels in the headliner to control odor (if you’ve ever ridden in an old taxi in a major city, you’ll understand that feature). There are also reading lights and floor lights, charging ports (12-volt and USB), grab handles and a swing-out entry/exit step. There’s plenty of leg room and seating for three people, and reportedly there is more luggage space than the Crown Victoria.
The driver is provided generous leg room, GPS and separate climate controls. Powered by Nissan’s MR20DE 2-liter engine, the NV200 cargo van is rated at about 24 mpg city, and Nissan claims the taxi’s economy “will help reduce the need for future fare increases.”
New York City taxis are owned and operated by private companies and individuals, but the city government requires taxicab owners to select from a list of approved models. When Ford announced they would discontinue the stretched taxicab version of the venerable Crown Vic, the city added taxi versions of the Toyota Sienna van and Ford Escape Hybrid to the approved-list, but only to study their suitability as replacements. Now that the Nissan has been chosen as the only allowable taxicab, we expect to see them in other cities too.
I’ve ridden a lot of different cabs in this country, and I guess I pay attention to them because I drove a cab during my college days. They’ve come a long way since my slant-six, three-on-the-tree Dodge, but this Nissan seems to me the most passenger-friendly taxicab since the Checker Marathon. Learn more at http://www.nyc.gov/html/media/totweb/taxioftomorrow_home.html
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