Currently, a wide array of vehicles — including everything from the Toyota Sienna to the stalwart Ford Crown Victoria — are employed as taxicabs in New York City. This is set to change in 2014 when the city will replace all of its taxis with a single vehicle, which may be one of the three finalists unveiled earlier this week as part of the city’s Taxi of Tomorrow competition.
Although the winner has yet to be decided, one thing is for certain about New York City’s next taxicab: it will be big and boxy. All three of NYC’s taxi finalists, including models adapted from the Ford Transit Connect, the Nissan NV200, and the all-new Karsan V1, sport minivan-like profiles. Ungainly, perhaps, but this does bless them with increased luggage capacity and generous rear seat legroom — two important factors in the city’s search for a new taxi design.
At this point, however, there doesn’t seem to be one clear-cut winner — which may throw the entire program into a bit of a tailspin. As the Taxi of Tomorrow mission statement reads, “whichever of these designs that the City selects — if any — will be the next New York City taxicab for the next ten years.”
“Each [design] is promising, but none is perfect,” NYC Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg told the New York Times about the three finalists. “We are not obliged to go with anything if it does not meet our needs.”
In fact, the city has already rejected four design submissions, including one reportedly submitted by General Motors. Still, the city government isn’t the only factor in selecting one of these three finalists. As part of the Taxi of Tomorrow program, the general public can submit their feedback on each design, vote for their favorite, and suggest features that should be implemented in the final design.
New York’s Taxi and Limousine Commission are still corresponding with each of the manufacturers about specific features and specifications such as legroom and luggage space. One particularly hot debate right now surrounds wheelchair accessibility — presently, only the Karsan design is fully wheelchair accessible. The other two competitors each have their own strong points as well — for instance, both the Nissan and Ford designs can potentially be built as electric vehicles.
A decision about the Taxi of Tomorrow is expected early next year with the first vehicles rolling out in 2014, and remaining in service at least through 2024.