Harlem resident Jonathan Knox, a frequent rider of New York City taxicabs, looks forward to the day when Nissan North American Inc.s taxi of tomorrow hits the Citys streets. It looks cool way more roomy and comfortable. And they say its better for the environment. Thats always a positive, he said.
Knox was among those who got a firsthand look earlier this month at the Nissan NV200, an all-electric minivan that will be the mode of transport for New York City taxicab riders beginning 2013. Plus, I like the fact that I can charge my phone while riding, he remarked.
Wheel-chair users complain, however, that the vehicle has neither the ramps nor the configuration to accommodate them.
Since 2009, the Citys Taxi & Limousine Commission has envisioned putting on the streets a vehicle that would accommodate travel of the future and at the same time improve on its outside environment. The sum of all ideas from taxi owners, drivers, passengers and residents produced the NV200, which is built on Nissan LEAF technology. Were committed to sustaining the New York City taxis heritage while meeting the modern needs of 600,000 passengers every day, said Joe Catelli, vice president, Nissan Fleet & Commercial Vehicles.
Nissans LEAF technology brings major environmental bonuses, not the least of which is a drastic reduction of the noise pollution associated with current taxicabs. The state-of-the-art design of the NV200s undercarriage, lights and body cuts down on wind drag so that you can actually hear and enjoy the sounds of the City. This, coupled with an electrically powered engine, greatly reduces the volume of the environment created directly outside the vehicle. While driving, the NV200 boasts a miniscule 21 decibels of noise.
The new cab, a replacement for the longstanding Ford Crown Victoria, literally is green technology in motion. The absence of a gas-driven engine eliminates the need for a tailpipe that releases carbon dioxide into the air. Instead, a zero-emissions engine diminishes the collection of greenhouse gasses over the illustrious New York City skyline, which will now be viewed through the NV200s panoramic transparent roof panel. That should sit well with New Yorkers, who are expected to increase taxi ridership significantly over the next 10 years.
The taxi of tomorrow is also designed to accommodate the expanding use of hand-held electronic gadgets. It has a mounted interactive touchscreen and a 12V plug-in port for charging. The cab driver can even use a smart phone or web-based computer to check the diagnostics of the vehicle.
For those who worry about the microbiotic environment created by countless riders, the interior of the NV200 is lined with anti-microbial upholstery, creating a non-festering environment that is also easy to clean. Whether this will cut back the use hand sanitizers is another matter.
The NV200 has sliding on both sides of the vehicle, facilitating access to the vehicle, and the absence of a hump in the middle the floor provides greater comfort. Handles are mounted beside the doors to make entering and exiting easier, but wheelchair users say that is far from enough. Federal prosecutors agree. They filed court papers on Oct. 13 arguing that the city is violating the civil rights law.