Owners and operators of New York City taxis are suing the city over rules that would replace all cabs with the Nissan NV200 "taxi of tomorrow" beginning late next year.
The lawsuit, filed by the Committee for Taxi Safety, and Taxifleet Management names the City of New York, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the New York City Taxi & Limousine Commission (TLC), and TLC commissioner David Yassky as defendants in the lawsuit.
"Taxicab medallion and vehicle owners, who have long been permitted to choose from among dozens of different vehicles by numerous manufacturers, will have all choices eliminated and will instead be required to purchase and drive the NV200 and NV200 only," the plaintiffs said in the lawsuit.
The official complaint repeatedly reiterates that forcing New York hacks to drive the NV200 is unprecedented; even in the heyday of the iconic Checker cab, drivers still drove other vehicles like the Ford Galaxy and Plymouth Fury in significant numbers, it says.
The lawsuit takes issue with the Nissan NV200, as well as the entire Taxi of Tomorrow process. The plaintiffs allege that the selection of the NV200 as New York's official taxi was an arbitrary and illegal decision, giving an untested vehicle with an unproven supply chain a 10-year monopoly in New York.
Taxi operators have numerous issues with the Nissan NV200. For starters, the New York-spec cab isn't yet in production, and was selected as New York's next cab without being tested in its "normal operating conditions" -- which would include driving the Nissan van in stop-and-go traffic for several hours a day. The plaintiffs also take issue with the fact that, though 43 percent of New York's current taxi fleet consists of hybrids, the NV200 uses a 2.0-liter 135-hp I-4 mated to a CVT that "does not appear to have the durability to be able to withstand the wear and tear for the years of service and mileage required by NYC yellow cabs."
Among other things, the lawsuit also alleges that the NV200's supply chain is completely untested, with parts being significantly more expensive because it's a specialized vehicle in the United States, and that "the NV200 uses outdated engineering, design, and technology."
While officially Nissan has no comment regarding the lawsuit, a source at Nissan has told us that the automaker is taking durability and reliability seriously with the NV200. In order to make sure the NV200 is up to snuff, Nissan installed instruments on current New York taxis to collect usage data that it could apply to NV200's development. Furthermore, Nissan also purchased and tested current NYC taxis to make sure the NV200 is as durable and reliable as the current fleet.
Nissan has even gone so far as to tune the NV200's engine and suspension specifically for cabby abuse. The automaker has also built a test track dubbed "New York Avenue" at its Arizona proving grounds, which replicates the city's driving conditions to make sure the NV200 can withstand the punishment New York streets dole out.
Under current TLC rules, the NV200 will take over as New York's next taxi by late 2013, completely taking over the fleet by 2016.