By on October 24, 2014

Nissan NV200 Taxi of Tomorrow

Clutching dearly onto their fleet of Panthers, New York’s taxi industry is heading up to Albany to contest the $1 billion plan to replace their vehicles with Nissan’s “Taxi of Tomorrow” NV200.

Bloomberg reports the Greater New York Taxi Association will contest the appellate court ruling made this summer that declared the program — meant to bring 15,000 of the new taxis to the streets of Manhattan over the next 10 years — was flawed from the start:

The Taxi of Tomorrow as planned forces owners to purchase a single foreign-made vehicle, which is neither fuel-efficient nor wheelchair accessible.

The lawsuit process began in 2012, after the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission chose the NV200 as its new champion, and mandated all medallion owners to buy the vans to replace their Ford Crown Victorias at $29,700 a pop. The plan was blocked twice prior to the June 2014 ruling in favor, once for the lack of hybrid models, and again for overreach by the commission.

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52 Comments on “NYC Taxi Association Take Taxi Of Tomorrow Fight To Albany...”


  • avatar
    Astigmatism

    I’d feel a bit less like my intelligence was being insulted by this lawsuit if the Taxi Association didn’t claim they were concerned that the NV200 is “neither fuel-efficient nor wheelchair accessible” while caterwauling over being forced to move on from their Panthers.

    But, having had the pleasure of a ride in the back of an NV200 earlier this year after a decade of bouncing around the back of shot-suspensioned Crown Vics, I’d still feel pretty insulted.

  • avatar
    VoGo

    Panthers? Not likely. You have to retire a NYC taxi at 100K miles, so the Panthers are almost all gone. Mostly replaced by Escape and Camry hybrids. Because taxi owners make rational decisions, and hybrids save them money.

    • 0 avatar
      Astigmatism

      I’m not sure where you’re getting this. According to the TLC, the average NYC taxi racks up 70k miles each year, and the average NYC taxi is 3.3 years old, meaning that the average cab _currently_ has a quarter-million miles on it. And as for the hybrid issue, the city formerly tried to make taxi owners buy fuel-efficient cabs, but the Metropolitan Taxi Board of Trade sued them over the plan and won, blocking the rule before it could be enforced.

      There’s more to cost than just fuel: Crown Vics are cheap to buy and can be repaired by an oil-soaked guy with a wrench and a hammer. If you’re an established medallion fleet owner, you already have a garage with a half-dozen guys who can keep a Crown Vic running for virtually no maintenance costs. Hybrids, being more complicated, cost a lot more to fix.

      • 0 avatar
        VoGo

        Astigmatism,
        You’re absolutely correct about taxi retirement; I don’t know where I got the 100,000 mile thing – it must have been a proposal that was squashed.

        Comparing hybrids to panthers, if you are right about the 70K miles per year thing, and gas is at $3.50 per gallon, then driving a hybrid would save around $8K/year. I am not convinced that a hybrid would be $8K more expensive in repairs or depreciation. And neither are most medallion owners, from what I see on the streets of NYC.

        • 0 avatar
          dal20402

          The savings are even higher than that, because cab service with conventional cars results in absolutely terrible gas mileage. It’s hard to think of a better application for hybrid powertrains than the NYC cab (or transit bus or garbage truck).

          • 0 avatar
            Featherston

            @ VoGo & dal20402, agreed.

            With the exception of a tiny handful of VPG MV-1’s (which I believe cater to disabled passengers), the Chicago cab fleet (far and away the nation’s second largest after New York’s) has turned over from Crown Vics to Camry hybrids, Altima hybrids, Escape hybrids, Prii, Fusion hybrids, and xB’s. I’d guess the Camry is #1, but all the models I mentioned are well represented. Kind of interesting to see things go from virtually all Checker Marathons to virtually all Crown Vics to a mix of vehicles. You see Panthers still in service, but the majority already are gone. If hybrids weren’t cost-effective, this wouldn’t be the case.

            As an aside: While it doesn’t seem to be a popular vehicle with journalists, the fact that the xB is the only non-hybrid amongst the new breed of cabs goes to show what a value it is in terms of cost versus space.

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            For the most part, NYC cabs are leased to their drivers by the cab company that owns the medallion and the car. Thus the cab company does not care about fuel economy, the drivers pay for the fuel. The couple of times I have gotten a hybrid in NYC, the drivers were either independents or part of a co-op. I have to think it would be a struggle to get double-digit fuel economy in NYC with a Panther. Especially the way cabbies drive them…

            I believe San Francisco has mandated that most if not all cabs have to be hybrids, though I do see the occasional minivan out there. I’m guessing they allow some larger vehicles for larger parties, but I’d love to hear the scoop if anyone here knows.

          • 0 avatar
            dtremit

            @krhodes NYC also mandated a certain number of hybrid cabs, which I think is a factor in the lawsuit.

      • 0 avatar

        Lots of hybrid cabs in Chicagoland.

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          In Miami just last week, I can confirm most the cabs were still CV’s, looking decent. There were also some Caravans (one I rode in was terrible), and I saw one QX56 cab which I found very odd. It was a regular yellow/black cab as well – and their fares are fixed to many of the most popular areas.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      A bit of Googling and the helpful fact that NYC has all the taxi regs online shows that there is no mileage limit. The rules are 36 months if the car is used for multiple shifts, 60 months if it isn’t. There is also a 1yr hardship extension that can be applied for. I think this is only for yellow cabs, black cars seem to get used until they fall apart. I have been in a Town Car with 600K on it – and it sure did FEEL like it had 600K on it in every single way.

      So no matter what, there will be no Crown Vics roaming NYC within the next few years.

      I find it ridiculous that they are trying so hard to mandate a SINGLE vehicle. It makes far more sense to use a hybrid in taxi service.

      As for comfort, even the Escape is more comfortable than walking or riding the subway. My favorite cab is the Prius-V. Easy to get in and out of, plenty of legroom, plenty of cargo space. Doesn’t make me nauseous like a 200K mile Crown Vic or Town Car does.

    • 0 avatar
      mikeg216

      Taxi cabs being run 24/7 will rack up 100k in ten months. 500k in about 3.5 1 million in 6 or less.

      • 0 avatar
        bomberpete

        NYC cabs have to be replaced when they’re seven years old. That means 2009-2011 Crown Vics that pass inspection now will be running for the next three years or so.

        The NV 200 is starting to fill up the streets here. During the legal impass, it looks like plenty of hybrids were bought: Camry, Prius, Prisu-V, Ford C-Max, last-gen Escape, Altima, a few Hyundais and VW diesels.

        I have no sympathy for taxi owners, but the TLC’s decree for the NV 200 was an outright intrusion into their freedom of choice. Even when the Checker was king, there were plenty of Chevy, Fords and Dodges on the streets.

        One can only hope that NV 200 proves to be durable. Otherwise, if that whole damn fleet is recalled or disabled, Uber, outer borough “green” taxis, and the car services will take up the slack — and the business.

  • avatar
    snakebit

    I don’t know who to blame, the taxi commission for dictating an oddball Nissan replacement that isn’t wheelchair compatible, or taxi owners who stockpiled Crown Vic parts without checking with Ford about how much longer they’d be produced, and quizzing frequent passengers who felt ignored in the comfort area from a cabin cruiser-size sled with less passenger legroom than a Prius. What’say we try this new taxi selection process again.

  • avatar
    petezeiss

    Damn, that van looks tippy.

    Need moar wheel.

    • 0 avatar
      RHD

      Maybe a wider stance would help. There’s certainly an improvement on headroom vs. a Panther.
      The real Taxi of Tomorow is likely to have a pink mustache on the grill.

      • 0 avatar
        petezeiss

        “Maybe a wider stance would help.”

        Yes! My new idée fixe… bring back separate fenders and widen the stance of EVERYTHING by a good 8″ on either side with minimal extra weight!

        I love separate fenders, with real running boards :-D

  • avatar
    tedward

    The only reason a sensible person needs to view this policy as suspect is the knowledge that it came from Bloomberg’s T&LC. The man was great when it came to city planning and infrastructure issues, and an utter nightmare when it came to administering any agency with an enforcement arm that was public facing. Bloomberg’s T&LC was a huge problem from start to finish, and their impound operations was almost as abusive as the civil asset forfeiture program (I don’t usually link on TTAC but stealing cars is relevant).

    http://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20140721/long-island-city/tlc-wrongly-accused-hundreds-of-being-illegal-cabbies-past-year

    • 0 avatar
      Astigmatism

      You can tar the agency all you want, but it doesn’t change the fact that the proposed taxi replacement is light years ahead of every other taxi currently operating in NYC in terms of the passenger experience.

      • 0 avatar
        tedward

        I don’t disagree with your original point however. The town car does not make a great taxi in my book. Of the cars I’ve seen replacing them the only abusively bad choice has been the last gen Ford escape.

  • avatar
    tedward

    astigmatism

    reply deleted. Cliff notes version (this is really annoying by the way TTAC)

    My last airport return was in one of these, all it is a low rent minivan. Any mid size sedan, full sized sedan or minivan offers more than sufficient rear legroom and storage capacity for cab duty. Almost all of them do so with far nicer interior furnishings and more comfortable seats than the Nissan the T&LC is trying to force on the cabbies. Most importantly almost all (if not actually all) can be bought for less than the $29k these un-competitive vehicles cost.

    They also have poor see-through characteristics for other drivers around them and unknown maintenance costs and needs in terms of what the fleet operators will be doing with them. Where’s the public interest in any of this?

    • 0 avatar
      Astigmatism

      I’m not concerned about soft-touch plastics in my taxis, I just want enough space and comfort to get where I’m going without squishing my knees into the back of a partition and/or getting motion sickness. Simply put, the NV200 is far, far, far better at that than any of the other current fleet stalwarts. I’m only 5’9″ and my knees press against the divider in Escape and Camry cabs. And while I have nothing against the minivans, I also don’t see any upside to them over the Nissans.

      The public interest is clearly for a better riding experience, and you’re literally the first person I’ve ever heard say that they prefer any of the older fleet to the NV200.

    • 0 avatar
      Lack Thereof

      >>>Almost all (if not actually all) can be bought for less than the $29k these un-competitive vehicles cost

      For $29k, these vehicles are delivered basically service-ready. Partitions in place, auxiliary air-conditioner installed, upholstered in TLC-spec antimicrobial materials, etc.

      Bringing a dealer-fresh Crown Vic or Escape up to TLC standards costs several thousand dollars. The price comparison is not appropriate.

      • 0 avatar
        bomberpete

        One can only hope that NV 200 proves to be durable. Otherwise, if that whole damn fleet is recalled or disabled, Uber, outer borough “green” taxis, and the car services will take up the slack — and the business.

  • avatar
    bunkie

    I have yet to ride in an NV2000, but I hope it’s better than any of the other types roaming the streets. The Camrys are *awful* as are the Escapes. Both ride like buckboards and feel as if they are about to experience spontaneous unintended disassembly. The best of the current crop are the rare Siennas.

    These days, about the only time I ride in cabs is on my way home from JFK or LGA. I always use a black car on the outbound leg, the experience is much nicer (being in a newer Town Car) and no more expensive than a cab.

  • avatar
    TybeeJim

    As in all such matters, follow the money. Who stands to benefit most from the Nissan/Renault deal. Therein lies the answer. That said, the Ford Transit Connect looked like the most likely candidate when this started. While Ford-owned, it was built in Turkey, not the US or Mexico. It does appear to me however, that such vehicles as the Escape or comparable Chevy would be the better choice, either hybrid or dino.

    • 0 avatar
      Astigmatism

      “It does appear to me however, that such vehicles as the Escape or comparable Chevy would be the better choice, either hybrid or dino.”

      Can I assume based on this statement that you’ve never ridden in an Escape cab?

      • 0 avatar
        VoGo

        The Escape taxis are awful for passengers — with that partition in place, the legroom in back is maybe 6 inches.

        • 0 avatar
          krhodes1

          I don’t find them much worse than a long Crown Vic with a partition. They are definitely no worse than a regular short Crown Vic with a partition, which I don’t believe exist in NYC, but do exist in my city – retired cop cars.

    • 0 avatar
      Rick T.

      Exactly. The first question that needs to be answered in any situation like this is, “Cui bono?”

  • avatar
    wstarvingteacher

    I’ll probably catch flak for this but: Having been an independent businessman for several years I think there is so much room for graft in the NYC system that I would never participate. From the medallion system to choosing your car for you there is way too much city intervention in the program. The choice of car by some board seems particularly deserving of civil action. I understand a license to work and think it should be based on having insurance, a proper meter, and a knowledge of the city.

  • avatar
    FormerFF

    While I can see a good reason for the commission to mandate standards for the city’s cab fleet, I do believe that specifying a single vehicle is wrong. Set some standards and let the marketplace take care of the rest.

    The last cab I rode in was a Scion xB, and it was a pretty good choice for the job.

  • avatar
    FAHRVERGNUGEN

    I still maintain that the best vehicle for the fleet was the LPG-powered MV-1. Built-in wheelchair ramp PLUS gobs of leg room for up to four passengers. Built in the good old USA, body-on-frame, with enough Panther parts to keep the oil-stained fleet managers happy.

    How bad would one of the buckboards mentioned above look after they reach 400k miles?

    Anyone been in Chicago or Hartford or Philly and ridden in an MV-1? Feedback welcome.

  • avatar
    "scarey"

    The BEST solution (which almost never occurs to government-types) is to let the cab owners decide which model(s) to buy and use. The best model will inevitably shake out. The cab owners and customers will be better served, although a few bureaucrats will be temporarily butt-hurt over the loss of expected graft and bribes.

    • 0 avatar
      Astigmatism

      scarey, you’re assuming that the best interests of the owners are aligned with the best interests of the customers, but they’re not: the owners couldn’t care less how comfortable a rider is, above literally-so-uncomfortable-that-I’d-rather-walk, and customers can’t do anything about it because they have no control over what cab pulls over when they stick their hand out on Sixth Avenue.

      But I appreciate your comment as a wonderful example of blind faith in “the market” against all evidence and logic.

      • 0 avatar
        05lgt

        You skipped that pricing is fixed. That burns “free market” faithers basic assumptions they don’t check for too.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        The invisible hand is awesome, until it punches you in the face.

      • 0 avatar
        SP

        Customers have plenty of control over whether they actually get into said cab or not. If there was more than one type of cab, they could pass over ones into which they didn’t fit. If it was critical to get a cab at that particular moment, they could … call ahead. As antiquated as that may seem.

        Keeping in mind that the operation costs of a small vehicle are not much less than a large one (especially since the license fee itself is one of the biggest expenses), cabbies would mostly tend toward larger vehicles so they wouldn’t lose out on passengers with baggage.

        There are plenty of cities and small towns around the world where cabs are chosen at the discretion of the cabbies. Have you been reading horror stories of passengers forced to ride in Yugos? I haven’t.

        • 0 avatar
          MK

          Butbutbut!!! Without the benevolent hand of city government… (T&LC Be Praised!) …. The poor customer would be strapped to a four story wagon pulled by oxen!

          How dare you suggest the masses would be able to pick and choose who they use! (T&LC Be Praised!)

          Help us not contemplate sinning again by making our choices for us!

          Lol ridiculous.

  • avatar
    petezeiss

    Taxis aside, this article made me soak up Nissan’s promo on the standard NV200. What an awesome product for 20K.

    If the mirrors are big enough, I don’t need no stinkin’ windows.

  • avatar
    jkk6

    FICTION

    I cast one vote against Nissans as a prospecting medallion owner.

    In the mean time…I’ll have my NY medallion meal as a Hybrid Lexus Double Wopper with extra cheese.

    -That’ll be a 1 Million dollars for the Medallion/License and 50 cents for the Lexus.

    Here you go.

    -Oh yeah don’t forget to stop by for inspection every year so you know make sure your wheels don’t fall off and stuff. We wouldn’t want that wheel that fell off hitting an innocent by stander.

    Haha what are the chance of that! One in a million?

    -That would be 9 cases yearly if it were(NYC pop. 9mil), way easier to check and prevent than trying to protecte you in 18 different scenarios from a phyco-passenger and vice versa in that Lexus you got.

    Alright man keep it up, still don’t want that Nissan.

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