An estimated 600,000 people take New York’s 13,000 taxis each day and at least a few of them must wonder at some point—while scooching gracelessly across a backseat or sandwiched in the dreaded middle spot— whether the city couldn’t come up with a better cab experience.
This week, the city’s answer to that question, the 2014 Nissan NV200—the "Taxi of Tomorrow"—arrives at the New York Auto Show. What the vehicle lacks in sex appeal it makes up for in…no floor bump?
Back in 2007, a group of stakeholders at every level of the cab industry outlined their goals for the next New York City taxi. The resulting Taxi of Tomorrow project was an effort to re-imagine every aspect of the taxi system for the 21st century. Two years later, New York’s Taxi and Limousine Commission invited auto manufacturers and designers to submit ideas for New York’s next taxi. In 2011, Nissan won the bid with its NV200 minivan, which is currently used as a delivery vehicle in Europe and Japan, and which will officially be the next New York City taxicab, beginning in 2013. The contract is estimated to represent $1 billion in revenue for Nissan over 10 years.
Since the NV200 was selected, The Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, the Design Trust for Public Space and Smart Design have worked with Nissan on the vehicle’s design. The new cab features sliding doors (good for cyclists!), room for four passengers and their bags, a flat floor, and a transparent roof panel. In terms of olfactory comfort, the vehicles also include an Active Carbon Lined headliner "to help neutralize interior odors" and anti-microbial seat fabric. As for extras, look for a mobile charging station and a less annoying horn. The car retails for $29,700.
Critics have noted that, well, it’s a minivan. On the upside, the new cab should clarify the available/engaged question for tourists with signs on both sides of the car indicating availability and features a step to make entering the cab a little less awkward. At an estimated 25 mpg, the NV200 also beats the current cab default, the Ford Crown Victoria, in mileage.
Nissan is also working on an electric cab pilot program, supplying six all-electric Nissan Leafs and three Level 2 charging stations to taxi owners and the city for testing.
The final prototype will now be on display at the 2012 New York Auto Show at the Jacob Javits Center, April 6-15. TBWA\Chiat\Day has created ads heralding the arrival of the new taxi, to run atop cabs and in outdoor locations around the city. See the car and the ads in the slide show above.