The Taxi of Tomorrow

The New York Taxi and Limousine Commission solicited proposals for a more fuel efficient vehicle that could serve as New York taxis. Three finalists have been chosen.

The contenders are "a minivan from Nissan, the Ford Transit Connect Taxi, and an entry from Turkish automaker Karsan Otomotiv, are the finalists to become the iconic taxi cab of the Big Apple," says Eric Loveday at AutoBlogGreen.

The Wall St. Journal notes that the finalists "...are all minivans."

The Taxi and Limousine Commission is soliciting input on their website.

Full Story: Three finalists in running for New York's "Taxi Of Tomorrow"



New York Taxis

A couple of points:
First, any choice is prone to political influence. I would think that in the first part that would almost mandate US made, and fair enough too, so why not just go straight there? Answer: Because you might not get the best deal. Even London bought clones of it's traditional cabs from Asia.

Second, did the active cabbies get widely consulted to generate the best functional concepts? This gets important if say, 90% of trips are for two or less passengers - why select a mini-van?

Third, I really like that cabs are disabled friendly, but do all cabs need these special facilities? In some countries e.g. Australia, some vehicles are set up for wheelchairs and drivers trained. Would-be passengers call a special number and an appropriate cab is dispatched. Way cheaper than equipping all cabs.

Fourth, it may have been in the specifications, but not in the article, but fuel consumption and emissions are important, especially given the number of cabs, and the actual environment they operate in. Crowded streets, lengthy idle time etc. all demand low emission levels as a priority.

Fifth, full EV's do have an issue with the distance available on a charge, and the re-charge process. Changeover batteries are a good start (See Better Place at: ) but hybrids have a lot to offer. In Australia, cabbies have mixed feelings about the Prius - some would have nothing else, others disdain them. At worst, they do offer a lower carbon option in a world where this is really needed.

Sixth, I think some attention to the working life of the vehicle might be worth considering. Here I am looking at the total costs of the vehicle and would include the disposal cost of the cab at the end of it's working life. If the working life of a cab can be extended by say, 50%, the energy bill required to build replacement fleets is reduced. Planned redundancy, one of the main drivers of over-consumption, should be eliminated. Clever design would allow periodic and economical re-fresh of the wearing components of the cab - interior, suspension etc.

Lastly on the overall design, I am unsure if a competition base is the best way to go, despite it's merits. It does depend upon the brief given to the competitors, but from reading the article I was left with some discomfort because of some notable omissions, some of which I offer above. Another was the use of diesel in any form, even in a hybrid. Current diesel technology is very advanced, and even particulates in the exhaust can be captured. Cars can achieve ~50+mile per US gallon of diesel. Surely diesel ought to have been enabled.

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