After considering a large number of proposals, New York City’s Taxi and Limousine Commission announced today that it has selected a small van from Nissan, called the NV200, as the Ford Crown Victoria‘s heir apparent as the yellow cab for New York City. This will give Nissan an exclusive 10-year contract to supply New York City taxi operators with vehicles.
The selection process began in 2009, when Ford’s Crown Vic went into full zombie mode. Since then, companies operating yellow cabs in the five boroughs have been free to supply politically correct vehicles; most are Ford Escape hybrids, and the rest of the city’s roughly 13,000 yellow cabs are comprised of Volkswagen Jetta TDIs, Toyota Siennas, Priuses, Nissan Altima hybrids, and even the occasional Lexus RX400h or Toyota Highlander hybrid.
Nissan’s NV200 beat out the similarly sized Ford Transit Connect, as well as a Turkish company’s clean-sheet proposal; the latter company, Karsan, even suggested building its van in Brooklyn. (For a further Turkish connection, it’s worth noting that all Ford Transit Connects sold in the States are imported from Turkey.) While the NV200 isn’t sold in the U.S. in any form, Nissan has said it plans to expand its van offerings here beyond the hideously truckish NV. Unlike the body-on-frame NV, however, the NV200 is car-based, and is a fairly conventional vehicle in markets like Europe, where small vans are popular.Interior of the European Nissan NV200. You can fuhgedabout ours having a stick.
We expect yellow NV200s to begin hitting New York’s streets in 2014, and they will proliferate as the existing motley collection of taxis wear out. To avoid the 25 percent chicken tax on trucks, Nissan may want to build the NV200 in the U.S.; this especially makes sense, as we fully expect Nissan to offer the small van to retail consumers. It’s also unclear what will power the NV200. In Europe, the van is offered with a choice of tiny gas or diesel engines. Neither of these is suitable or economical for Nissan to bring to the U.S., so we expect that the company will install a four-cylinder engine already familiar to the American market, like the 1.8-liter powerplant used in the Cube, Sentra, and Versa.
While 13,000 vehicles isn’t a tremendous number, New York City’s taxi choices influence fleet selections for other cities as well, as the big companies that operate regionally like to have a standard vehicle and set of replacement parts and tools.
Unfortunately, neither Nissan nor the City of New York has given any impression that there will be any changes to the incredibly annoying video clips forced on rear-seat taxi passengers.