“Taxi Sir”…..You Mean “Nissan Sir” Don’t You?
Hot on the heals of winning the contract as the official taxi-cab supplier for New York City for the next 10 years, Nissan don’t intend to let the momentum drop as they now unveil their view of the “London Cab” of the future and what’s being called, “The Taxi of Tomorrow”.
Now, I don’t know about you, but certain things are just iconic, such as the red phone box, the London bus and of course, the black London cab. They don’t always make sense and could probably be replaced by something else that would do the job more economically, or more efficiently and from a sensible point of view, that’s exactly what should happen, but is that what you want, what you really really want?
Most have us have seen movies set in New York where yellow Ford Crown Victoria cabs with the black & white chequered stripes wallow along below the sky scrapers producing an iconic image of that amazing city. Well no more, as The New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) has decided they needed a new taxi cab, for the 21st century and decided that Nissan offered the best package with the modified van! So its goodbye yellow cab as we know them and hello to “yellow van” and do you know what, that’s a real shame.
Mayor Bloomberg described the Nissan NV200 as “the safest, most comfortable and most convenient cab the City has ever had,” and went on to say that the new Nissan (Van) can expand and redefine the legendary image of New York City taxicabs. The new taxis will be custom-designed to meet the specific demands of carrying 600,000 passengers a day in New York City traffic and the vehicle meets the top priorities identified by the public in our on-line survey.” OK, ok, it all makes sense but it’s a sad day.
So, after the success in New York, Nissan figured they would have a go at destroying the other iconic taxi city, by coming up with something to replace our “black taxi cab” and guess what they’ve come up with? Yes, it’s an NV200 van, that’s been modified.
There are around 300,000 users of London cabs each day and Nissan say that if chosen, their NV200 London Taxi will offer significantly reduced CO2 outputs compared to current taxi models, which should sit well with the Mayor Boris Johnson’s Air Quality strategy for London. Emissions being the key, Nissan say the NV200 London Taxi’s Euro V engine emits up to 138g/km of CO2, compared with 209g/km from the ‘greenest’ TX4 model. So yes, it’s difficult to argue against the change, particularly when taken across the fleet of cabs as it would see a C02 reduction of 37,970 metric tonnes a year and that’s apparently the equivalent of planting 10,000 acres, or two congestion charge zones of trees every year. Other nasty things such as particulate gasses and NOx would see a decline of 20 metric tonnes and 135 metric tonnes a year respectively.
Unfortunately the poor old icon is like it was in New York, being hopelessly trampled into the ground by the common sense of the Nissan NV200. The pricing makes the change even more compulsive, as a custom built Nissan NV200 London Taxi, is expected to cost far less than a traditional TX4.
So it’s pretty clear that Nissan are on to something here, as in addition to New York giving it a 10 year contract, the new cabs have been shown in Tokyo also and it’s going to be a real smart move for Nissan if they can establish the NV200 as the new global taxi. Just think of the number of taxi cabs in the world and the number of vehicles you are going to supply if you become the taxi of choice. Just think of the servicing and spare parts you’re going to sell to keep them on the road. This truly is as smart a move as you can possibly imagine.
Whilst we don’t know the specification of the proposed London Taxi, below is what they told us about the New York version last year and if Nissan is looking to globalise the product, one might assume the London Taxi, will share a similar specification?
- A 2.0L 4 cylinder engine to reduce Co2 emissions and improve fuel economy
- Room for four passengers and their luggage (improved over current taxi models)
- Sliding doors with entry step and grab handles, providing easy entry and exit
- Transparent Roof Panel (with shade) to provide ultimate views of the city
- Independently controlled rear air-conditioning with filter to improve cabin air quality
- Breathable easy clean seat fabric that simulates the look and feel of real leather
- Overhead reading lights for passengers and floor lights to help locate belongings
- Mobile phone charging point for passengers including 12v socket and USB
- Six way adjustable drivers seat
- Drivers navigation and telematics systems
- Front and rear occupant curtain bags
- Sliding doors to reduce the risk of pedestrians and cyclists getting struck by them
- Lights that alert other road users that the taxi doors are opening
As we said, this was the initial New York specification but it’s certain that much of this will find it into the London version.
An all new design like the NV200 will also give the designers an opportunity to make it a much more accessible taxi for disabled people, who despite their disabilities are going to be able to use this new taxi and it’s our understanding that lots of thought is going in to this and that even more importantly, even after its initial launch, the NV200 taxi, will continue to evolve.
The cleverness however does not stop there!
The body of the vehicle and the way it works for passengers is one thing and once you’ve honed that and you’ve arrived at the most user friendly option, getting it greener can begin you begin and whilst from the get-go the Nissan is going to offer huge environmental benefits over the old black-cabs, an all-electric NV200 concept is set to undergo trials in London and just imagine the positive impact on the air quality of the city that this would bring.
We don’t think electric cars in anything like their present form are the way forward for the average car driver at the moment – HOWEVER – We tested the Nissan Leaf, all-electric car earlier this year and were hugely impressed by it in every way, and providing London will invest in the infrastructure to allow electric taxi’s to charge up whilst they don’t have a fare, these things are going to be perfectly suited and will be mega successful.
So I started off banging on about icons being destroyed and should we be doing that, but I wonder why I even posed the question now, because whilst the benefits of even the interim diesel powered Nissan NV200 are obvious when compared to the traditional TX4 taxi, the long term benefits of working with someone like Nissan, who have demonstrated they are happy to invest millions into green technology like they use in the Leaf will mean our towns and cities could in the future become nicer cleaner places to be and it could all be down to some icon destroying Japanese van that we might just find we are not be able to live without.