By on November 17, 2010

It’s definitive: The fabled New York Yellow Cab will either be replaced by a minivan made in Japan, or by a something made in Turkey. After a long “Taxi of Tomorrow” competition, the NYC’s  Taxi has now announced the final contestants:

  • Nissan’s entry is based on Nissan’s NV200 model, made in Japan.
  • Then there is the futuristic V1 by Turkish automaker Karsan Otomotiv. It has a wheelchair ramp, and a glass ceiling for admirers of the Manhattan Skyline.
  • Lastly, there is the bland entry by Ford, based on their Transit Connect ute.

Which one would the “Buy American” crowd prefer? The answer is easy: None. The Ford Transit Connect is also made in Turkey, made by the Otosan joint venture in Izmit.

Both Turkish entries are somehow connected. Karsan was once ruled by the Turkish Koç Group before it relinquished control to the Kıraça Group. Koç didn’t exit the business, and is now Ford’s partner in the Otosan joint venture.

Died-in-the-wool Manhattanites will remain characteristically aloof, even if their future cabs come from Turkey, which has 2:1 odds. According to Manhattan lore, taxi drivers all come from Turkey anyway, and points further east.

According to Reuters, the winner will be announced in early 2011, new vehicles are expected no later than 2014. The winning model will replace the ambling Crown Vics and Ford Escape hybrids. Gobble-gobble!

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44 Comments on “Turkey Day Edition: NYC Picks A Taxi...”

  • avatar

    How big are the Turkey and Nissan vans? I know how big the Transit Connect is.

  • avatar
    John R

    The Ford Transit Connect is also made in Turkey, made by the Otosan joint venture in Izmit.

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    It’s only fitting: vehicles for the Third World Motorpool should be made in the Third World, right?  Seriously, while the London taxi is a precedent, I really wonder how cost-effective it is for NYC hackers to be forced to purchase a purpose-built vehicle rather than some off-the-shelf model, or at least a modified off-the-shelf model.  Having ridden in them, I don’t find the Escape Hybrid cabs to be too bad.  I have no idea how they stand up to taxi service, however.

    • 0 avatar

      the escapes are ok at best. I never have enough (any really) knee room in the back seat (b/c of the divider), and I’ve been in several lately with some truly awful drivetrain whine. Small interior, tall car.

  • avatar

    Of these three I’d rather see the Transit take the honors. The minivans are excellent in concept, but NY has a no sharing cabs policy (with strangers) and I’ve heard drivers bitch and moan about how quickly their fleet minivans fall apart. The modern minivan has more space and features than any other car, but they are apparently as flimsy as that interior plastic suggests. The glass roofed van looks nice, but why should I trust that brand, and what if I want some privacy? The ford at least has killer head room, and comes from a car that already exists on US roads.

    • 0 avatar

      Full-size, front-drive minivans aren’t really designed for urban cab duty as North Americans understand it, not with the somewhat lax, cost-driven maintenance schedule that many cab operators favour.  How your average cabbie drives doesn’t help.
      The Transit is probably the best bet, even if it’s not made in North America.  It’s not a purpose-built special (ask Carbon how their cop cars are moving), it’s cheap, durable and efficient.  it’s got mad space, too.

    • 0 avatar

      The city website lets you vote on the winner – though no indication if they’ll factor the votes into their final decision – and I voted for the Transit for those exact reasons.  An NYC cab has an absolutely brutal lifecycle, so my money is on the vehicle that’s already been proven in commercial use all over the world.  Engineering > design in this instance.

  • avatar

    I thought Ford planned to build the Transit Connect in the US and that the imports from Turkey were temporary.

    • 0 avatar

      That was my understanding too. Ford would import the van at first to test the market and then switch to local assembely.

      It should also be pointed out that Ford is currently re-tooling a couple C-segment plants in the US that will be flexible enough to build Transit Connect taxis once the Crown Vic ends production in late 2011.

      I’d put a small bet on the Transit Connect being assembled in the US from MY 2013 onwards, hopefully with the 2.5 and 6 speed auto.

    • 0 avatar

      Shipped over as kits and then assembled (like the Sprinter vans). This is not really the same as actually building them here. For one the vast majority of suppliers would remain in Turkey. But it does get around some taxes.

    • 0 avatar

      Unfortunately, the TCs are shipped as passenger versions already. There’s no extra pain for Ford that would make them reconsider. And the numbers are too small. If TC was as popular as Camry, then we could hope for them to be made locally. As it is, no chance.

    • 0 avatar
      Telegraph Road

      TTAC readers (and editors!) may want to read the other auto blog sites:

  • avatar

    I like the glass roof, but they could put a glass roof on a normal car instead of using this purpose-built Jetson-inspired cereal box.

  • avatar
    N Number

    Wouldn’t it make more sense for cab companies to choose which vehicle fit their needs best?  I know, I know, I’m living in the past…

    • 0 avatar

      The economics and standards of dealing with taxi services in a city like New York are not quite on the same scale as those where the taxi service consists of a retired couple and their Ford Taurus.

  • avatar

    If this thing is built with a glass roof, it better have a monstrously powerful AC system to deal with 95+ degree days that are common in NYC during July/August.

  • avatar
    Steven Lang

    I wonder how this is going to work from a financial perspective. For most taxi companies buying used is an essential ingredient in their profitability.
    Higher fees for passengers?
    Greater economies of scale by partnering purchases with different cities?
    Lower medallion fees but limited competition?
    The monetary component is far more interesting to me than these vehicles. They all emulate the square, truckish, RWD persona with the big greenhouse. If that’s the case, NYC may as well resurrect the late 90’s Trooper tooling and throw a small diesel engine into them.
    It would probably be far cheaper… and think of all the export opportunities (JK)

    • 0 avatar

      Most NYC taxi fleets buy new.  Little taxi companies in Bumf**k, Iowa buy used cop cars.
      BTW, the majority of taxi drivers in NYC are not employees, they are essentially self-employed, leasing the cars/medallions from the cab company on a per diem basis.  Most of the medallions are not owned by the cab company either, they are leased from the owners.  You don’t actually need to operate a cab in NYC to own a taxi medallion.  The medallion on the hood of an NYC taxi is more than likely owned by a doctor, lawyer, Wall St. swindler, etc.  Years ago, in order to hold an NYC taxi medallion, you needed to be directly involved in operating a taxi.  That rule should be reinstated.

  • avatar

    Is it really 1976 again? or merely a replay? Similarities are all to obvious

  • avatar

    My fantasy NYC cab fleet would consist of Checker Marathons, fully restored, all powered by some kind of electric, hybrid and/or biodiesel powertrain. The ‘past meets the future’ sor’athing.

    I love Japan and have nothing against Turks, but if the “Buy American” crowd absolutely had to choose one of the three options, they’d pick the transit. Yes it’s made in Turkey, but an American company gets at least some of the pie, as opposed to none. Ford can use those profits to pay off their debt, and remain a healthy American company.

    Also, due to the Chicken Tax, Transit Connects have their interiors shed in Baltimore, so there are direct jobs to be had by choosing the Transit. That said, I’m not sure how passenger Transits are handled to avoid the tax…are the interiors removed then re-installed?

  • avatar
    Rod Panhard

    The glass-roofed vehicle from Turkey really doesn’t have a chance. Government agencies in NYC already have Nissan products in the fleet (NYPD) and acres of Ford products. Transit Connects are already all over the city. The glass-roofed taxi-product will have to meet the same safety standards as everything else.
    What will be the deal-breaker is if/when the Nissan and Transit Connect will be electric or hybrid. NYC has a tendency to force private businesses to spend money like government agencies, with no little or no regard to ROI. It’s a “We Know What’s Good For You” mindset.

  • avatar
    martin schwoerer

    Talking about which taxi is nicest for *passengers*, I’d say it used to be the S-class Mercedes’ occasionally used in Zurich and Geneva, but they are becoming more and more rare. In contrast, there is something about the E-class often employed by cabbies in Germany that I find generally unappealing.
    My choice would be Tokyo’s finest: the Toyota Crown and the Nissan Cedric. I’ve heard that the Cedric costs only around $16,000 new; one might hope this could be another good thing to adopt from the Japanese.

  • avatar
    John Horner

    Ummm, didn’t we already see this story on TTAC yesterday?

    • 0 avatar

      Just about to post this…. thought they made a decision already.
      I am baffled that this is a “competition”
      The Karsan is computer generated vaporware that would be a purpose built model… that can’t be good for costs.
      The NV200 will be a LARGE van, probably bigger than a Sienna Judging from spy pics. Maybe they can use them for airport duties, but their size will CLOG the streets of NYC if they are standard.
      The Transit Connect seems like a DUH no brainer. Well lets see… It EXISTS for one. Its small yet roomy, fuel efficient, and oh yeah… they make it for everyone…. economies of scale much?
      I agree that there should be a standard option. But this really isn’t even a competition here.

    • 0 avatar
      Paul Niedermeyer

      This is an ADD test, and the results are not good:

  • avatar

    I think what us Americans should lament is not that this type of low margin vehicle is made abroad. After all, we are a highly developed, high wage economy. However, Japan and Germany can produce expensive, high margin luxury vehicles and export those all over the world, and I wonder why the US cannot do that.

  • avatar

    What I’d like to know is why the Taxi Commission is making this choice at all.  To me this is as Big Brotherish as Bloomberg’s inane campaign on salt.  I might see them setting standards for accessibility and such, but choosing which vendor gets a monopoly??  Why are the cab companies – private businesses, last I heard – not raising tee-total hell over the government dictating their business decisions like this?

    • 0 avatar

      Possibly because having one cab platform is good for the business as a whole?

    • 0 avatar

      Because without any regulation, the NYC taxi biz would devolve into the the street fights over turf, and scamming of the public that caused the city of New York to regulate the taxi biz in the first place — back in the 1930’s.

    • 0 avatar

      I’m not saying there should be no regulation, but pushing all the way down to mandating a single particular vehicle from a single particular vendor vendor is what I would expect from a Soviet Russian taxi commission.  How much payola and under-the-table influence peddling do you reckon is going on to be the anointed taxi of NYC?
      Why not set an envelope and allow multiple vendors to compete for the business of providing cabs in NY.  If the vehicles are that wonderful as taxis, they will have additional markets all over the place.

    • 0 avatar

      You think someone at Ford has been delivering bags of cash to the New York TLC offices to keep the CV on the road all these?  A few thousands cars a year is a drop in the bucket for any of the mass market auto companies. They really don’t give a crap about what car is used by NYC for taxi fleet service. We’re not taking about Ferraris.  The reason that the TLC mandates the type of car that is used is to avoid confusion and potential rip-offs, or worse.  Ever been to the big, big city?  I suggest you have a look at the realities for yourself before you start with the Mush, Insanity, Dreck, “Austrian School” BS.

    • 0 avatar

      The same reason a single taxi license costs $600,000, unless you’re a business in which case it’s $800,000 – because NYC is an authoritarian pit. Which is the same reason 1.1 million people moved out of the city between 2000 and 2008.


  • avatar

    The Transit Connect WILL likely be built stateside by the time NY gets around to actually doing anything this data collected (target 2012 for US built Connects).

    • 0 avatar

      Yay. I hope this means passenger versions.

    • 0 avatar
      Chicago Dude

      Chances are good that Nissan would find some spare capacity in a US factory if their design was chosen. (snark).
      But in all seriousness, this taxi vehicle is likely to be low-volume and low-margin.  Even a tiny currency shock would force Karsan to say “It’s not worth it”.  Big multinationals like Ford and Nissan aren’t going to flinch – they have been dealing with this stuff for decades.

  • avatar

    I would think that customers would pick a taxi…Oh…Americans are now too stupid and infantile to be free and need their “Dear Leaders” to do everything for them. When public school Americans start refering to the politicians as “Leaders”, then you know the world is in for another Dark Age.

  • avatar

    Aren’t these supposed to be some hybrids?  I vaguely remember that Blumberg was pushing for some high number of hybrids in NYC taxi fleet.

  • avatar

    The Transit Connect is by far the best platform for a NYC Taxi. I have experienced a similar taxi in England (Fiat Scudo based?) and they are roomy and easy to get in and out of via the tall sliding doors. with the, They can accommodate a wheel chair and have plenty of room for luggage or packages. The TC will soon be available as a plug in battery electric which would be good for use in the urban environment.

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