By on May 3, 2011

Nissan’s NV200-based entrant into New York City’s Taxi of Tomorrow contest has won the contract (reportedly worth over a billion dollars), reports Reuters, beating out two other finalists, one based on Ford’s Transit Connect, the other from Turkey’s Karsan Otomotiv. The decision may be taking a few New Yorkers by surprise, as Reuters reports that the Turkish entrant’s clear glass ceiling made it a crowd favorite, and that

Karsan also hoped to gain favour with city officials by promising to assemble the cars in Brooklyn, vowing to use union labour. The plant would have marked a return of auto-making to the city for first time in about a century.

Though New Yorkers may have preferred a locally-built model to take over from the 16 vehicles currently serving as NYC Taxis, the NV200 seems like a sweet little van. So congratulations, Nissan… now, are we ready to start talking about a civilian version?

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20 Comments on “Nissan NV200 Wins NYC “Taxi Of Tomorrow” Contract...”

  • avatar

    Where is / will this 5 seat minivan be made?

    • 0 avatar

      In Mexico. Clearly, the thought of having this little jewel made in the US with union labor scared the bejeezus out of the judging panelists. I was surprised that Mazda did not submit a tailored version of its Mazda5 for consideration. I have rented that little mini-mini-van and it is a great vehicle for taxi use.

      • 0 avatar
        Richard Chen

        This is a rather tall/narrow vehicle, a EU spec sheets lists weight at just under 3000 lbs, 173″ length, 66.7″ wide, but 73″ tall, and a 2.0L 4cylinder. Except for the height, it’s not unlike the original Chrysler minivan.

        By comparison, the US Mazda5 is weighs in at about 3500lbs, and is almost foot less in height and has a 2.5L 4 cylinder. The 3rd row isn’t removable without a wrench, and you still won’t get a flat load floor that the NV200 has.

  • avatar

    What a sad state of affairs. Good luck finding a cab in NYC in another 5 or so years when this thing puts many taxi operators out of business. The idea of the govt mandating a sole vehicle to be used by non govt companies is insane. Making it a 10 year proposition is even even more insane.

  • avatar

    I’m somewhat relieved that the Turkish entry did not win. The New Yorkers who voted for it did not have to think about maintaining those, longevity, emissions, or any practical considerations really.

  • avatar

    Why they don’t simply adopt the TX4 (current iteration of the London Black Cab) is beyond me. I just returned from London and there is no doubt in my mind they represent the state of the art in urban taxis.

  • avatar
    Jeff Waingrow

    Ed, if the response thus far by New York Times web readers is any indication, your sense of this being a sweet little van is not much shared by them, and for a number of reasons. The London cab that findude mentions has been lauded by some of these same readers as well as by a number of people I know who have spent time in London. Whether that’s the best choice one can certainly debate, but not choosing a Big Three maker does sort of rub the wrong way, no?

    • 0 avatar

      Well, when the only vehicle put forth by the Big Three to even make the finals is a Ford made in Turkey, then either the other two don’t make anything suitable, or aren’t willing to change something to meet the requirements well enough to be acceptable.

    • 0 avatar

      Ford also could try a version of C-MAX if they were serious about this competition. But I think none of the 3 put their 1st string team on this. The payoff is not there. As Nissan carrying the win was an accident of them already having a dedicated taxi platform.

  • avatar

    Why is “this thing going to put many taxicab operators out of business”?

    Have you priced a taxi medallion lately? The cost of the cab itself isn’t the largest expense of running a cab business. Between gas, labor and financing of the medallion itself, the vehicle cost comes in fourth, I would bet.

    Aren’t all London cabs diesels? There’s no way that NYC would allow all cabs to run diesels.

    I can’t comment on the new cab itself, but this New Yorker has has enough of the Panther. From a passenger’s point of view, it sucks. There’s no knee room, the doors are small, visibility when exiting is downright dangerous, the trunk, even when it’s not filled with two full-size spares is next to useless.

    And while it’s nice from a free-market viewpoint to deride the operator’s lack of choice, when you’ve ever been in the situation where you need a van cab to carry your oversized purchase and all you can get are useless Panthers, the result is a failure to meet the passenger’s needs. Especially if you are wheelchair-bound. There are converted vans, but they are few and far between. The Taxi and Limousine Commission serves the people of New York, not the taxi operators. They have every right to establish standards.

    • 0 avatar

      “And while it’s nice from a free-market viewpoint to deride the operator’s lack of choice, when you’ve ever been in the situation where you need a van cab to carry your oversized purchase and all you can get are useless Panthers, the result is a failure to meet the passenger’s needs.”

      That isn’t a failure of the free market because there isn’t a free market when the business license costs $950,000.

      The Taxi commission doesn’t serve you. It serves the taxi operators by protecting them from competition. It does that so well that they can offer you a ride in a Panther that doesn’t do anything well except durability … and you take it.

      • 0 avatar

        “The Taxi commission doesn’t serve you. It serves the taxi operators by protecting them from competition. It does that so well that they can offer you a ride in a Panther that doesn’t do anything well except durability … and you take it.”

        So how, exactly, does that jive with the decision to require all licensees to move to a dedicated taxi platform?

        And to address your other point, the streets of Manhattan bring to mind the tragedy of the commons. It’s a limited resource that needs to be managed. In that way, the TLS does, indeed, serve us.

  • avatar

    This is a bit of a tangent, but it pertains to taxis and their role in serving as a means of transporting the public. I wonder what the B&B think of this line I’m pulling from the 1976 MOMA Taxi Project:
    ” If it were recognized, at a Federal level, that cabs provide a mass transit service, which equals if not surpasses that of other public transportation systems now receiving subsidies, it need not be considered anti-American to suggest that a restructured and innovative taxi industry should be eligible for grants under the terms of the existing Urban mass Transit Act.” -Emilio Ambasz

    The idea of taxis as a mass transit or even public transportation system is an interesting one and certainly has implications on how taxis should be addressed by the government. Any thoughts?

    • 0 avatar

      There are interesting taxi-type schemes in many parts of the world: colectivos throughout Latin America and Jeepneys in the Philippines come to mind. Another less obvious example is the “slug” system used by commuters from Virginia suburbs into DC in which passengers get a free ride in exchange for occupying a seat and making the driver HOV eligible.

      With today’s cell phone capabilities, it should be possible to create virtual collectivos–anyone with an extra seat simply uploads the start and destination points and time, and sells the nation’s most underutilized resource (vacant seats in cars) to willing bidders. There are nasty legal and insurance details to sort out, but such a seat sharing system has analogues in the currently successful vehicle-sharing systems like ZipCar.

      • 0 avatar

        I certainly agree that there seem to be great advances for taxi systems yet to be made using smartphones. Being able to track the location of available cabs is just one possibility, and I imagine that there are a variety of plans that could be though up for making full use of the always moving fleet of taxis.

      • 0 avatar

        Wow, findude, you were ahead of your time.

  • avatar

    Are we told why the Nissan won? As a New Yorkey I’m extremely disapointed the Turkish company lost. Karsan was going to bring over 800 jobs to NYC, which as a mechanic could’ve potentially meant a better job for me.

    Creating jobs or making life easier for the lower and middle class NY’er just doesn’t matter to Emperor Bloomberg these days

  • avatar

    Yeah – a short school bus/cargo van for everyone!

    Looks like a delivery truck.

  • avatar
    Kristjan Ambroz

    Actually, the London Cab (TX4 or its earlier iterations) might be a wonder of space efficiency but a great model of passenger comfort it is certainly not. The suspension is more pliable on most commercial vehicles, probably an ox-cart rides better – combined with the less than smooth London roads longer journeys are a pain. The new Mercedes Vans, which are a possible alernative may not look as iconic but in terms of passenger comfort they are several decades more advanced. Apart from the tight turning circle and space for 5 pax, you most certainly do not want the TX4 as a model cab for NY.

  • avatar

    Wonder if Ford’s figured out what a bad idea it was to not invest in the Panther for the last decade yet.

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