This week, the Taxi of Tomorrow—well the taxi of 2013 to 2023, that is (the duration of the lease)—was unveiled to New Yorkers for the very first time. Thoughts from the first users of the fully fitted mock-up installation, which is on display in Madison Square Park until Sunday, were mixed. Despite the years of research and design, you can be sure that any flaw will be brought to light by the critical eye of your average New Yorker.
“Everything about it was nice, except it’s very narrow, there’s no way in hell there’s room for three people”, said an unapologetic Tom Creasy.
The Nissan NV200 does have ample leg and headroom, where it falls short in space is the shoulder to elbow section of your arm, which—if you are sharing with two others (as The Transom was)—it will be pretty cramped.
Regular taxi customer Paul Makovsky believed that the new taxi did represent an improvement but thought some of the features, like the transparent roof, were superfluous “When you’re in a cab in New York you’re looking at your phone and you’re turning off all other stimulation,” he said, before adding “I think it’s nice that maybe you’ll get to see some sun, but it’s not a big deal.”
Danielle Becker, however, was a fan. She positively glowed after her installation demo “I loved it, especially the headroom” And any downsides? “It’s not moving!”
The most controversial point is the lack of wheelchair access. Joe Castelli, Vice President of Commercial Vehicles and Fleet for Nissan, passed on that responsibility to the Taxi and Limousine Commission “We delivered what the TLC asked us to deliver.” On the possibility of the some two thousand wheelchair users in the City being accommodated at a later date he said “This vehicle is ready for a wheelchair accessible up-fit… So, we can make this vehicle that way, but it will come with a cost and it will really be up to the city if that’s something they want to do.”
As for the all-important green credentials, well, it’s a two-liter, four-cylinder engine compared with the current V8, which will save on fuel consumption. However, it does represent an overall step back in the march to a completely environmentally friendly fleet.
Seeing as the new Nissan will be the mandatory new car, as of 2013, all current hybrid cars (that run on a combo of gasoline and electricity) will eventually be weened off the road. In something of a compensation gesture Nissan is donating six of their Leaf model electric cars and three charger points in six months’ time.
Castelli said about the trial “Is it for every usage? absolutely not, but we think that somewhere down the line the electrification of the taxi fleet does make sense.” He paused for a moment, then added “Maybe it can be limited to lower Manhattan or midtown or something like that.”