Courts Sideline NYC’s Taxi of Tomorrow

Mayor broke the rules in awarding contract to Nissan.

by on Oct.09, 2013

A Nissan NV200 Taxi of Tomorrow cruising in front of the Brooklyn Bridge.

New York’s Mayor Michael Bloomberg apparently didn’t play fair when it came to choosing the next generation of vehicles that would pick up fares across the Big Apple.

One of the billionaire mayor’s signature plans was to replace all of New York’s existing taxi fleet with a customized version of the Nissan NV200.  The van won a much publicized shoot-out sponsored by the city’s Taxi and Limousine Commission that, in the final round, pitted Nissan against Ford and a start-up manufacturer from Turkey.

A Fare Deal!

But the plan was tossed out by the Manhattan Supreme Court which ruled that Bloomberg and the commission blithely ignored a key line in New York’s city charter which had been revised to require that all future cabs be equipped with hybrid powertrains.

The mayor and his allies claimed that while Nissan’s special NV200 models didn’t use hybrid power their four-cylinder engines still would get significantly better fuel economy than the mish-mash of Ford Crown Victorias and other vehicles picking up passengers on the streets of New York now.

The new model will be “the most comfortable taxi ever to hit our streets,” Bloomberg declared after the winner of the Taxi of Tomorrow competition was announced last year, pointing to the many amenities being added to the NV200 for city duty.  That includes better interior lighting, USB and 12-volt power ports for cellphones and iPads, and even carbon headliners and anti-microbial floor mats to keep things cleaner and hold down smells.

(Yo! New Yorkers get their first look at the Taxi of Tomorrow. Click Here.)

The Nissan Taxi of Tomorrow was to offer 10 more inches of legroom than current cabs and there’ll be no hump down the middle of the floor that makes it so unpleasant, today, to get stuck with the center seat.

The plan was to begin phasing out the existing yellow-painted New York cabs starting on October 28th, the replacements set to phase in over a three-to-five-year span.  But the owners of the approximately 13,000 taxis plying the city’s routes didn’t like the new mandate and took Bloomberg and the TLC to court.

(NY Mayor Bloomberg wants 10,000 EV charging spaces added in NYC. Click Here for more.)

In ruling in favor of the Greater New York Taxi Association, Justice Schlomo Hagler declared that, “”Simply stated, the power to contract and compel medallion owners to purchase the Nissan NV200 from Nissan for ten years does not exist in the City Charter.”

It’s actually the latest in a series of court rulings that have largely gone in favor of taxi owners, but Bloomberg, now serving his final term, seems intent on making the Taxi of Tomorrow his legacy and is expected to appeal the latest decision.  However, two of the leading candidates to replace the mayor in the coming term have said they are less supportive of the taxi replacement plan and might not make a legal appeal if elected.

(London may soon lose its iconic black cab. Click Here to find out why.)

For its part, Nissan is “disappointed in the court decision,” but moving ahead under the assumption that the courts will eventually rule in favor of requiring the use of the NV200.

“Given the specific NYC taxi research and development that we have conducted,” the maker said in a statement, “we are confident that the Nissan taxi provides optimal safety, comfort and convenience for passengers and drivers alike. We are evaluating options for next steps regarding the exclusivity contract.”

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One Response to “Courts Sideline NYC’s Taxi of Tomorrow”

  1. heyfred3000 says:

    Chevrolet is going to sell a re-badged version of this (Chevy City Express) in a few months. I wonder if they have any stake in the taxi version sales?