New York City's iconic yellow taxicabs are about to get an extreme makeover of the Soccer Mom kind. According to Big Apple mayor Michael Bloomberg, the NV200 minivan from Japanese automaker Nissan has been selected to be the next anchor of the 13,000-strong NYC taxi fleet.
“You talkin' to me??” Somehow, I just can't see a remake of Martin Scorsese's legendary 1976 film Taxi Driver without Robert De Niro or New York's classic Checker cabs. Finding a comparable actor to fill De Niro's shoes is one thing; getting him to exude deranged cabby Travis Bickle's aura of simmering psychotic menace while driving a (gasp!) minivan is quite the other.
I'm standing here; you make the move. You make the move. It's your move...
Bobby D may still be with us but those hulking Checker cabs are long gone and their replacement, the discontinued Ford Crown Victoria, is about to follow. Enter the Nissan NV200, winner of a city-held competition over entries from Ford and Karsan, a Turkish automaker.
The first NV200s should hit NYC's mean streets sometime in 2013 and within five years, all taxicabs (even current hybrid models) will have been replaced by the boxy Nissans.
What would Travis Bickle say if he was told his trusty Checker was being replaced by a minivan? Maybe something along the lines of “Hey, I'm not square, you're the one that's square.” Once inside, though, he might lighten up a little because for one thing, the interior of the NV200 is a lot brighter than its claustrophobic predecessors: the NV200 showcases New York's soaring skyline via a panoramic overhead window.
There's more, like onboard outlets, charging stations and a GPS system. Passenger airbags, city-friendly doors that slide sideways, and spacious trunks that can hold the luggage of four people.
Last but not least, the NV200 boasts fuel efficiency of 25 mpg (10.6 kpl) – double the Crown Victoria's 12 mpg to 13 mpg. We might even see an all-electric cab fleet one day, since the NV200 was designed so its current 2.0-liter, 4-cylinder internal combustion engine can easily be switched out for an electric engine.
Mayor Bloomberg (above) had a final rejoinder for critics who complained the city was giving preference to a foreign automaker. Though Nissan is planning to build the NV200 in Mexico, the finishing touches (including a snazzy yellow paint job with checkerboard graphics) will be applied at a New York City-area facility. (via Mainichi Daily News)