Judge Says NYC Must Allow Hybrids Alongside Nissan NV200 Taxi

Legal rules have caused yet another setback for the Nissan NV200 "Taxi of Tomorrow." Despite plans for the specially designed vanlet to serve as the official taxi of New York City from this October, a judge has ruled that similarly sized hybrid vehicles must also be allowed.

A New York State Supreme Court judge reportedly ruled against New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg's plan to have a taxi fleet composed almost entirely of the Nissan NV200. The sticking point was a rule that requires the city to approve "one or more hybrid electric models" for "immediate use" by taxi operators. Nissan does not offer a hybrid version of the NV200 taxi, although it has said that an electric version of the small van, possibly called the e-NV200, is under development.

The ruling means that New York City's Taxi and Limousine Commission will reportedly consider a rule amendment allowing other taxi vehicles. Operators could buy a hybrid vehicle other than the Nissan NV200, so long as it was a similar size. The Commission will hold a public hearing on the matter on June 20.

The Nissan NV200 may be touted as the "Taxi of Tomorrow," but it's also the taxi of lawsuits. New York City taxi fleet owners previously sued because the ruling forces them to buy one specific type of vehicle for ten years, even though owners claimed the NV200 wouldn't be durable or affordable enough for duty in the City. The New York City Comptroller also said the vans violated Americans With Disabilities Act requirements for wheelchair accessibility, although Nissan has created a version of the NV200 specifically designed for access by disabled passengers.

The Nissan NV200 taxi has a long list of unique features designed to make it more user-friendly than today's fleet, which consists mostly of aging and fuel-hungry Ford Crown Victoria sedans. A skylight allows views of the city skyline, there are USB charging ports and climate controls for passengers, and the driver enjoys a standard backup camera and navigation system. Nissan says the van's 2.0-liter inline-four engine and continuously variable transmission will be much more fuel efficient than the V-6 and V-8 engines in today's taxis.

Nissan also builds a cargo version of the NV200, and Chevrolet will soon offer its own iteration of that model called the City Express.

Source: The New York Times

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