New York City To Test Nissan Leaf Taxis In 2012By Danny King November 1, 2011
New York City will add six Nissan Leaf battery-electric vehicles to its taxi fleet next year as part of a pilot program geared to study how electric-drive vehicles perform in the largest U.S. taxi fleet. The citys Taxi & Limousine Commission is letting owner-drivers and fleet operators apply for the program and will give the selected applicants a one-year lease on a Leaf taxi free of charge. The commission is holding an informational session on New York's Nissan Leaf taxi program on Nov. 9 and is accepting applications through Nov. 30. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's fuel economy testing determined that the Leaf (above) delivers 73 miles of driving range between charges, though that number will likely be substantially lower under typical New York cab driving conditions.
With its cabs cumulatively travelling about 500 million miles a year, New York is the largest of the many U.S. cities pushing to bring up average fleetwide fuel economy and bring down the fuel consumption of their cab fleets. Last July, New York led a group of six U.S. cities whose mayors wrote a letter to then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) pushing for Congress to help ensure better fuel efficiency among U.S. cabs and limos. They estimated that 50 million gallons of fuel would be saved each year from more fuel-efficient cabs. New York's gone one step further by replacing many of its police department's Ford Crown Victorias and Chevrolet Impalas with Ford Escape Hybrids and Ford Fusion Hybrids and this past July approved city taxi cab operators to buy both Ford Transit Connect utility vehicles and gas-powered Nissan Altimas. The city already has more than 300 Nissan Altima Hybrid cabs.
The Leaf pilot program marks New York City's continuing work with Nissan in its effort to boost fleetwide fuel economy. Nissan in May beat out the Ford Transit Connect and the Turkey-based Karson Otomotiv for the exclusive 10-year contract from New York to build next-generation cabs starting in 2013. The contract, which could mean the sale of up to 28,000 vehicles and more than $1 billion in sales for Nissan, calls for cabs to be derived from Nissan's NV200 minivan, which is already used as a commercial vehicle in Japan, Europe and China. That vehicle, like the Ford Transit Connect, uses a 2-liter, four-cylinder engine, and the Nissan gets an estimated 25 mpg combined. Nissan this week will display a NV200-based cab (below) at the pedestrian plaza north of New York's Flatiron Building as part of its public design expo.