Nothing in the automobile industry is quite as iconic for a city as New York’s taxi cabs. The Crown Victoria has been the shape of the iconic cab since the 1980’s, but this year it was announced that Nissan has won the bid to replace the Crown Victoria for the next ten years of cabs in NYC. Nissan asked cab drivers, and the many men and women cab passengers in New York City, what was most important to them in a cab and created the ultimate taxi of safety and convenience. Cabbies drive the vehicles for an average three years, but since that usually tallies up to 400,000 miles they practically drive them until the wheel hub and bearing assembly fall off, so it's important to have a robust design as well. Really, the only drawback is its less than stellar appearance, but once we cover the new features available you’ll be able to look past it's ugly yellow shell.
First thing passengers will notice is the ease of getting into the cab with wide sliding doors (like a van). No more opening doors out into unsuspecting traffic. Once inside, there is dramatically more legroom, enough to get in and stretch out a bit to enjoy the ride. The seats are made of anti-microbial vinyl that kills 99.9% of germs on contact so you won’t need to burn your clothes and take a shower once you reach your destination. The widows on either side of the cab slide open as well to provide fresh air or, of course, an escape hatch to avoid making a mess in the cab.
Separate air conditioning and heat is available to passengers with the driver being unable to operate the controls from the front of the vehicle. There will also be two USB charges available in the back, in addition to the classic car charger. The floor is made up of recycled rubber and runs right up to the seats, making the floor clear and visible to avoid losing things inside the cab.
To get as much as you can out of the beauty of NYC, the roof is comprised of a giant polycarbonate window so you can watch the skyline. The fabric lined ceiling and interior walls have an active carbon layer to absorb any smells.
There is also a polycarbonate partition between the driver and the passengers. A small sliding window can be opened to chit chat or to give directions, but there is also an intercom system available beneath the driver ID area. There is also a 15-inch screen that provides information and entertainment inside the cab, although this feature is already available on most taxis today.
By the intercom system is also a credit card reader. There will be both the typical slide reader and an RFID reader for the tech-savvy passenger, but both transactions will print out a small receipt.
As for the exterior, great care was taken to improve the ride comfort of this new taxi. They tested the vehicles on a test road full of obstacles and potholes to recreate the common situations cabs are driven in. The wheels are painted a simple grey to keep them from looking grimy, and are made to absorb most of the shock of the roughness of NYC roads. The suspension is also tuned for rear occupants.
A large wing-like structure mounted on the roof has a white light band that wraps around the sides. The light, along with the cab number, lets potential passengers know if the cab is available. One much discussed feature is the “horn accountability light,” which glows yellow when the horn is depressed to let police know who to write the noise pollution tickets to.
An illuminated outline of a person (in the fashion of bathroom door signs) lets the people behind the cab know there are passengers exiting the vehicle. Nissan has even thought of the classic yellow taxi paint - many of us have seen dings repaired with matte yellow paint, because a cabbie didn’t have the time or money to keep it in the shop to get a clear coat. Nissan’s new paint will be a simple one coat spray that will be quick and look shiny as if a clear coat has been applied.
All-in-all, a lot of research and thought was put into the new cabs. They may look different than what New Yorker’s are currently used to, but with its many convenient and safe features, I think the new Nissan cabs will win the hearts and minds of New Yorker’s after the first convenient and smooth ride.