Nissan Wins 10-Year NYC Taxi Contract

A van designed by Japan's Nissan Motor Co Ltd. won New York's 10-year contract to build the next generation of taxis for the city, Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced Tuesday.

The other two finalists in bids for the contract were Turkish manufacturer Karsan Otomotiv and Ford Motor Co.

Nissan's design is based on its NV200 minivan, Bloomberg said.

"It's going to be the safest, most comfortable, and most convenient cab the City has ever had," Bloomberg said.

"We started this process to leverage our taxi industry's purchasing power to get the highest quality taxi ... the new taxis will be custom-designed to meet the specific demands of carrying 600,000 passengers a day," he said.

Nissan will be able to convert the NV200 to run on electric-only engines beginning in 2017. The city will test the use of electric-engines in taxis using six electric Nissan Leafs, provided free to the city as part of the deal.

The NV200 is the first cab to pass federal crash testing with the taxi partition and taxi equipment installed.

The "Taxi of Tomorrow" will replace the 16 models now on New York's streets. The 10-year contract is expected to begin in 2013, when older models will begin to be phased out over the next three to five years.

Karsan's van had gained notice because of its transparent roof for better sight-seeing and a ramp for wheelchairs.

The NV200 taxi model will also include a transparent, panoramic roof panel.

The Turkish manufacturer had hoped to gain favor with city officials by promising to assemble the cars in Brooklyn, vowing to use union labor. The plant would have marked a return of auto-making to the city for first time in about a century.

Bloomberg said that Karsan was not selected largely because the company has little experience providing cars to the American market.

The Nissan NV200 taxis will be built at a Nissan facility in Cuernavaca, Mexico, and will be converted to cabs at an undetermined location in the New York area, Nissan Americas Chairman Carlos Tavares told reporters.