The iconic "yellow taxi" of New York City has taken many forms over the years. For decades, the New York Taxi was synonymous with the Checker Marathon, which reigned for nearly two decades on the streets of the New York. Most recently, it's been the ubiquitous Ford Crown Victoria. But the next-generation taxi will look nothing like its storied forebears.
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced Nissan's NV200 as the winner of the city's Taxi of Tomorrow program back in May 2011, making Nissan the exclusive providers of taxis for the city beginning in late 2013.
Although we've seen a few details previously, today we have more detail about the taxi. Riding on a 115-inch wheelbase, the NV's wheelbase is only about 5 inches shorter than that of the extended-length Crown Vic, but its overall length of 186 inches is a substantial 34 inches shorter than the old Ford sedan.
In comparison to the Ford Transit Connect, which was also in the running for the Taxi of Tomorrow program, the NV200 is 5.4 inches longer, and has a 0.4-inch longer wheelbase. However, the (smaller) NV is 2.7 inches narrower than the Transit Connect at 68 inches. The TC is also substantially taller than the Nissan, at 79.3 inches, compared to the Nissan's 73-inch height.
This efficient packaging results in an interior capable of transporting four passengers plus their luggage comfortably. While situated in the rear quarters, passengers will be able to take in a panoramic view of the New York skyline with a transparent roof panel, and charge their portable electronic devices with two integrated USB power ports and a 12-volt outlet.
For driver safety, the vehicle has a fully integrated partition. In fact, the vehicle was safety tested with the partition in place, a first for a New York Taxi. The vehicle is pre-wired for the T-PEP payment and mileage-logging system, and driver and passengers can communicate through a built-in intercom system. The driver also enjoys a standard integrated navigation system with a back-up camera displaying on the navigation screen when in reverse.
To keep from getting too hot during those muggy New York summers, rear passengers have separate HVAC controls, and opening rear windows for those who prefer al fresco riding. The rear upholstery is breathable, anti-microbial material that simulates the look and feel of leather, but is durable and has an easy-to-clean surface. To keep from developing the stereotypical "taxi funk," the headliner is active carbon lined to help neutralize odors.
Bicycle couriers will likely be thrilled at the sliding rear doors, preventing dreaded door collisions while on a delivery. The hazard lights will automatically flash when the door is opened, and the NV is equipped with what Nissan is calling a "low-annoyance" horn, which also flashes the front lights when the horn is used, presumably minimizing drivers' needs for laying on the horn.
Specific powertrain details are vague, with nothing listed other than a "proven" 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, possibly a version of the current Sentra's MR20DE engine, which produces 140 hp and 147 lb-ft of torque. It's unknown whether the NV200 Taxi will employ one of Nissan's ubiquitous CVTs, or a conventional geared transmission, but we're betting on the former.
Nissan is also experimenting with a fleet of electric vehicles with the city to look at the feasibility of electric-powered taxis, and is working with aftermarket upfitter Braun on producing a wheelchair-accessible version available by the time the taxi starts to hit the street in 2013. The taxi will be manufactured at Nissan's plant in Cuernavaca, Mexico, and expected to be priced at $29,700.