The State of New York’s top appeals court has ruled that New York City can launch an all-Nissan taxi fleet under its $1 billion contract with automaker. The court rejected the Greater New York Taxi Association’s argument that the city exceeded its authority to require a specific vehicle.
The full Court of Appeals unanimously affirmed an appellate court decision that the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission can require all cab drivers to operate the Nissan NV200 compact cargo vehicle, dubbed the “Taxi of Tomorrow,” when it was selected by the city in 2011 to replace the majority of its taxi fleet, which includes everything from Ford Crown Victoria sedans, Toyota Prius hybrids models and various kinds of minivans.
The decision to standardize New York’s roughly 15,000 medallion taxi cabs has been resisted up until now by the taxi owners, who pay nearly $1 million for their medallions. The group said that it was disappointed by the ruling, but it was “time to move on,” and that it would not appeal the decision.
The Court of Appeals said New York City’s Taxi and Limousine Commission did not overstep its authority by designating a single vehicle type for taxi service.
About 700 NV200 taxis are already operating on New York City streets, but the commission wants the “Taxi of Tomorrow” model to grow to 80% of the fleet, now at roughly 15,000 medallion cabs.
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Nissan won the contract – valued at around $1 billion – after beating out Ford and Turkish manufacturer Ka.
This week’s court ruling not only paves the way for Nissan and the city to enact their plan, but also brings the possibility of electric taxis for New York much closer.
“The Nissan NV200 taxi provides a vehicle that is optimal in safety, comfort and convenience for passengers and drivers alike,” said Travis Parman, a Nissan spokesman.
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The authority given to the city’s Taxi and Limousine Commission “allows for the designation of a single vehicle model that was specifically designed – through a lengthy public process – to be a taxi,” Judge Leslie Stein wrote in an opinion for the Court of Appeals.
The Nissan vehicle is more tailored to the city’s roads than any prior cab, said Parman. It’s the only taxi to be safety-tested with a partition installed, and its airbags are superior, he said. The cab is wheelchair accessible.
“This is a good outcome that will enable us to expand this use of a modern vehicle, designed with safety, health and comfort in mind,” Taxi and Limousine Commissioner Meera Joshi said in a statement.
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Nissan also sells an all-electric version of the NV200 in Europe called the e-NV200, and it uses the powertrain from Nissan’s Leaf electric vehicle. Nissan previously unveiled a version of the e-NV200 for taxi use in London – complete with a retro front fascia meant to mimic London’s iconic black cabs. But while Nissan has discussed selling the e-NV200 in the U.S., it still hasn’t set a timeline for its introduction.