Monday, November 15, 2010

New York City Announces Finalists In Taxi Design Competition

New York City has announced three finalists in the design competition to replace existing taxi models with purpose-built taxis. They include designs by Ford, Nissan, and Karsan USA (which is a Turkish company's US operation).
The three finalists to be the Taxi of Tomorrow were selected from a larger group of submissions, and concepts were evaluated by the Taxi and Limousine Commission, in cooperation with the Mayor's Office for People with Disabilities and Ricardo, Inc., an international automotive engineering consulting firm. The winning proposal will be announced in early 2011 and the new vehicle will be on the road no later than the fall of 2014. Total fleet turnover will be gradual over several years as older vehicles retire - New York City taxicabs are typically retired after three to five years of service.

The Taxi of Tomorrow project began in 2007 with the formation of a Taxi of Tomorrow Stakeholder Committee, and a Request for Proposals was issued to automotive manufacturers in December 2009. The project seeks to build a taxicab that is safe, fuel-efficient, accessible, durable, and comfortable.

New York City has 13,237 licensed taxicabs, including the world's largest fleet of fuel efficient taxicabs, with 3,983 hybrid, 5 Compressed Natural Gas (CNG), and 17 clean diesel taxi cabs. Today's taxi fleet is comprised of 16 different vehicles, supported by nine manufacturers.
From the exterior the three models are roughly similar in appearance - they're all minivan styled with side door access. Karsan's interior diverges from the standard designs with three forward facing passenger seats and a fourth seat facing the passengers with a driver cockpit. The other two designs are conventional in appearance.

Without knowing the technical details about mileage and performance, it's tough to pick a winner from the bunch. The city had issued a request for proposal, but it didn't get into specifics about performance and mileage requirements.

At a meeting last week, cabbies worried about requiring fleet purchases of the cabs, which means that a recall or factory problem could shut down the entire fleet. It might make more sense to allow cabbies and fleet purchasers to buy one of the three finalists, rather than mandate purchase of the preferred model.

This is a major issue because the Crown Victoria is being discontinued after August 2011, and the Crown Vic has been the backbone of the New York taxi fleet for a generation. Crain's notes that the Ford proposal would get 22 mpg, which is nearly double the Crown Vic's mileage.

No comments: