Nissan Debuts NV200 Taxi for London

The Nissan NV200 may not have quite succeeded in becoming the official “Taxi of Tomorrow” in New York, but now the compact van has received a quick facelift as Nissan sets its sights on the London cab market. Looking somewhat like a plastic surgery treatment gone wrong, Nissan says the new face of its “Taxi for London” is meant to mimic the appearance of the city’s classic black cabs.

The Nissan NV200 Taxi for London is part of Nissan’s global taxi initiative that, for now, focuses on launching the NV200 in New York, Barcelona, London, and Tokyo. Other than the new face with its rounded headlights and garish chrome grille, the Taxi for London receives a few modifications compared with other versions of the van in order to fit in with London taxi restrictions, like an LED-lighted roof sign, a black paint scheme, and a tighter 25-foot turning circle. An earlier version of the NV200 London taxi shown by Nissan also sported two extra jump seats in addition to the three-person rear bench to match the traditional London cab’s five-person rear seating capacity, but it’s unclear if this final production version retains these extra seats.

Under the hood of the Nissan NV200 Taxi for London is a 1.6-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine mated with an automatic transmission. This engine is smaller than the New York NV200’s 2.0-liter four-cylinder powertrain, presumably for the sake of increased fuel economy. Nissan also says that this engine will be cleaner-burning than the current London taxi’s diesel engines.

After the production version of the NV200 Taxi for London goes on sale in December 2014, Nissan is planning on releasing an all-electric version of the taxi sometime in 2015. Based on the Nissan e-NV200 concept shown last year, the electrified Taxi for London apparently has the support of the London Mayor’s office and will hit the streets sometime in 2015.

We’ll see if Nissan’s London cab initiative can avoid the same legal struggle that resulted in the loss of an exclusive contract for New York City’s taxis. After combatting obstacles concerning handicap access and hybrid taxi options, a New York Supreme Court judge finally ruled that the New York Taxi and Limousine Commission could not mandate New York taxi drivers to purchase the Nissan NV200 taxi. Still, numerous Nissan NV200 taxis are currently on duty in New York, so stay tuned to see how the NV200 taxi’s launch shakes out in London.