It is, admittedly, difficult to get too excited about a ride in a taxi. Taxis tend to smell, their drivers tend to be rather abrupt in their piloting style and there's a good chance you won't be able to find one when you really need it. Nissan's "Taxi of Tomorrow," then, is hardly the most alluring concept car on display at the New York International Auto Show, but it is, however, the one you're most likely to actually get to take a ride in. It's also a huge advance compared to the rather tired 'ol Crown Vic. Join us after the break for an exploration of why.
The NV200 is Nissan's panel van, a tall, slab-sided machine that's designed for hauling around moderate amounts of cargo, particularly ideal for small companies. The Taxi of Tomorrow is simply an NV200 that's optimized for fleshy cargo. A bench seat slots in the rear, separated from the two front seats by a thick, healthy slab of protective plexiglass. Those rear seats are covered by an anti-microbial fabric, so hopefully they'll stay fresh and clean despite not being made of the hose-friendly vinyl found in the back of a Crown Victoria cab.
Entry is through a pair of sliding doors with retractable running boards, making this easier to get out of in tight spaces while also eliminating the chance of catching a pedestrian by surprise. There's even the option for a rear-mounted wheelchair lift, making this far more accessible than your average sedan. It's easier to spot, too, with big red and green lights indicating whether a cab is occupied or vacant.
The back seat is a comfortable place to be. The seats are wide and the (see-through) roof tall. Passengers have separate climate controls, so no longer will you be at the complete whim of the driver, and a pair of USB ports means you can juice up your celly on the way to the show. Payment can be processed through the (clearly labeled) RFID area -- though there's still a pass-through if you haven't given up on cash just yet.
Interestingly this Taxi of Tomorrow hasn't given up on gasoline. It's powered by a two-liter, four-cylinder engine that powers the front wheels. Nissan does have a concept all-electric version of the NV200, but it isn't suited for this kind of duty just yet.
The NV200 Taxi of Tomorrow will become the Taxi of Today late next year, when the $29,700 vehicles will go on sale and start showing up across the boroughs.