Yep. You've seen it here first folks, unless you've already seen it at my flickr account. First time I've seen a Mercedes Benz S.U.V. taxi here in the city. It's not the first time actually that there's been a Benz among our yellow cabs, but the S.U.V. is a new one, and it's especially interesting since the Lexus taxi isn't approved anymore, so this might be the alternative for an owner/driver who's been driving long enough to be able to afford such a thing.
Why? you ask: it's a clean diesel vehicle, so it doesn't burn as much gas, and it might also have cleaner emissions.
For those of you not familiar with the whole taxi model issue in New York City and North America, the Crown Victoria, our most used taxicab here will soon be unavailable. So as the months move forward from about 2 years ago up until within the end of next year, we're going to have to find the best alternative car to replace the big Ford Crown Victoria. We need a car that has a lot of trunk space, room for 5 large adults, good gas mileage, long lifespan and good reliability, cheap replacement parts and cheap repairability, and last but not least, the highest safety standards.
This is a subject that really gets me excited. You can probably figure that out if you click HERE for my photo page of almost every model of taxi on the New York Streets today!
I tried to go one further with a page of as many pictures I could find of taxicab models in New York City since the dawn of time, I start with a umm.. vehicle, that pre-dates the meter. see the history page HERE.
I set the pages up also in the tab section right at the top of the blog. The Mercedes Benz taxi from the late 90's is on that page, as are a bunch of other interesting ones.
The Year 2013: I probably should tell you that the mayor and the Taxi and Limousine Commission has already approved one certain vehicle to be used once we hit that certain date. On that year the standard taxicab will be a Nissan NV200. I believe the only alternative vehicles allowed to be taxicabs will be vans retrofitted for wheelchair access. I find this extremely limiting. In my opinion we are going through the early stages of a mini taxi revolution right now. We're experimenting with small cars, large cars, minivans, hybrids, and diesels. We are looking into greener solutions, and wheelchair solutions. And I worry that between the year 2013 and the 5 to 8 years after, we will be stuck again with a taxicab that doesn't really address anybody's concerns. Hey at least we won't all be driving the Crown Victorias anymore, but there are major concerns that the new taxicab has no plan for wheelchair access, and it doesn't do enough to limit emissions. By the year 2020 we won't have one hybrid taxi on the streets, and perhaps every taxicab will have annoying sliding doors.
Never mind the fact that when Nissan holds a monopoly on the New York taxi industry, it means Nissan will hold all aces at the poker table when negotiating a sale of a car. What is an owner to do? they can't purchase a different car, so the taxi van could inflate its own price based on the regulated demand. Nissan estimates 1 billion dollars in profit from this deal, and maybe, you think, maybe, officials in the mayor's office and the taxi commission might have asked for a few kickbacks to put Nissan in such a good place? it'd be naïve not to think that. I think this van will be awesome for the most part, but I also think it'd be beneficial to keep other cars on the approved taxi list, like the Toyota Highlander, The Prius, and Camry.