The New York Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) has approved the Ford Transit Connect Taxi for use in the city, which will mean regular shipments from the carmaker’s Otosan plant in Turkey.
The announcement is something of a surprise given TLC’s approval in May this year of a ten-year “exclusive” contract with Nissan North America for the supply 13,000 NV200 minivans from its Cuernavaca plant in Mexico for use as taxis in the city from 2013.
The search for a single provider for the taxi contract is part of a project called ‘the Taxi of Tomorrow’. In December 2009, the TLC issued a request for proposals inviting carmakers and designers to submit their best ideas for a purpose-built vehicle to serve as a New York City taxicab. The proposal included plans for a pilot programme to study the use of zero-emission, electric vehicles as taxis.
Nissan beat Ford for the contract but Ford’s announcement will see the Transit Connect shipped to New York from as early as this autumn. The Ford Taurus also was approved for use.
In response to the news, however, Nissan has announced that a number of its non-hybrid vehicles, including the Altima model, have also been approved for use as part of the current New York city fleet of vehicles with immediate effect. Just more than 306 hybrid-electric (HEV) Altimas are in use as taxi cabs in the city but in a meeting held last week it was agreed that approval had been extended to include the non-HEV version of the vehicle.
“We’re proud that Nissan was selected to provide New York City’s Taxi of Tomorrow…[.] While our work on that programme is underway, we’re pleased that Nissan can increase its presence in today’s New York taxi fleet,” said Joe Castelli, Nissan’s vice president, Fleet & Commercial Vehicles.
Nissan will be supplying the Altima from its US production facilities in Smyrna, Tennessee and Canton, Mississippi and said that expects to be able to meet demand within its current production schedules. Furthermore, NYC-area Nissan dealers will be responsible for working directly with medallion holders, said a spokesperson: “We don’t anticipate any departure from our current retail vehicle transport process,” she added.
Meanwhile, Ford’s Transit Connect is being brought into the port of Baltimore from the Ford Otosan facility in Turkey by Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics (WWL) and converted into commercial vehicles at WWL’s Vehicle Services Americas facility there.
The Transit Connect has also been approved for use in Boston, Chicago and Philadelphia and last month a CNG version was approved by the California Air Resources Board for use in California.
The first Transit Connect Taxi was delivered last December to a taxicab company in Boston. Since then, more than 100 have been sold to companies in Los Angeles, Chicago, Las Vegas, St. Louis and Orlando.