First, it was Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s ban on large-size sugary beverages. Now it’s his taxicab.
In yet another display of judicial oversight, a state Supreme Court judge has struck down Bloomberg’s proposed “Taxi of Tomorrow” plan that would have given a nearly exclusive contract to Nissan to supply 13,000 NV200 minivans for duty in the Big Apple.
Alas, Justice Peter H. Moulton said it wasn’t the 2014 Nissan NV200 itself that’s optimized for taxi duty that’s holding up the Bloomberg’s ambitions; it’s New York City’s legislation. According to city code, the city “shall approve one or more hybrid electric vehicle models for use” and the models “shall be eligible for immediate use” by all taxicab medallion owners.
The Nissan NV200 will have a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine in the U.S., rated at 131 horsepower and it’ll be rated at a combined 24 mpg. But it won’t have a hybrid powertrain available in the models available immediately, if ever. And that’s a problem.
David Yassky, the city’s taxicab commissioner said that he does not anticipate that this will delay the start of the NV200 program, and taxi company owners will be allowed to purchase hybrids as long as they’re the same size. That should include vehicles like the Toyota Prius V, Toyota Highlander Hybrid, and, um, well, that’s about it. Midsize hybrid sedans don’t quite have the cargo-hauling capabilities of a small van.
Those cars each cost around $30,000 for starters and quickly go up from there without any conversions for taxi duties. Medallion owners say this is an intentional wrench in their figurative cogs, as hybrid sedans are generally a good bit cheaper. Without having even gone on sale yet, the 2014 Nissan NV200 has already caused its fair share of controversy. The models we’re getting will be built in Mexico and are marginally larger than the overseas editions. They’ve been optimized to compete against the Ford Transit Connect, and even Chevrolet is getting in on the action with its own version called the City Express, set for the 2015 model year.