The Daily News reported last week that the Nissan bid received the highest score in the competition based on design features like interior legroom and durability.The Karsan was a more flexible interior with the ADA compliance thrown in. Moreover, Karsan had announced that they'd build a factory to manufacture the taxis in Brooklyn, giving a boost to the local economy on top of the features that mean much to those who use taxis on a regular basis.
Bloomberg and Taxi and Limousine Commission Chairman David Yassky in November revealed that Nissan was among three finalists in the competition, along with Ford and Turkish carmaker Karsan.
At the time, officials said the winner would get a 10-year contract giving them exclusive right to make and sell yellow cabs to city hacks and fleet owners.
An interior shot of the Nissan cab.NYC Taxi and Limousine Commission
The choice is bound to be controversial. While there are 13,200 yellow cabs, only about 240 are handicapped accessible. Advocates saw the competition as an opportunity to increase the mobility for the estimated 50,000 wheelchair users in the city, along with many others who have difficult walking.
Advocates for the disabled have been pushing for the Karsan design because it featured ramps that mechanically extend from both sides of the vehicle. Its design also featured a see-through roof, offering new vertical vistas for everyday riders and tourists.
Large fleet owners wanted the Ford Transit Connect, another van that has been used for commercial purposes in Europe and has been approved for use as a cab in U.S. cities like Boston.
Either way, the taxi of the future won't be on the road anytime soon.
I expect that the decision will come under tremendous scrutiny and that local politicians will demand a review - particularly those from Brooklyn who lost out on the opportunity for the factory and the jobs and impact on the local economy.
Moreover, the only reason I can see the Karsan project losing is that it simply wasn't a household name among carmakers as compared to Nissan.