Taxi Tech

Thanks to Legal Tangles, You’ll See ‘Taxi of Tomorrow’ Tweets Before You See the Actual Cabs

There are also lots of snazzy promo vids.
That's a pretty big phone charger. (Screengrab: Nissannews.com)

That’s a pretty big phone charger. (Screengrab: Nissannews.com)

“The Wait Is Over,” a sponsored Gothamist post about Nissan taxicabs trumpeted yesterday: “NYC’s New Cabs Have USB Chargers, Passenger Climate Control, Panoramic Glass Roofs.”

High tech cabs with phone chargers and a view? Sounds great to us. But after we got to the bottom of the post promoting Nissan’s #HailYes campaign, we wondered: where are these wondrous vehicles?

Well, only about 12 of the city’s 13,237 cabs are Nissan NV200s. But Nissan’s still pushing a giant #HailYes social media campaign.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg has been pushing the Taxi of Tomorrow plan for about five years. A mandate to have virtually all of the city’s cab drivers ditch their old vehicles in favor of the Nissan NV200s was struck down in court on May 15, with State Supreme Court Justice Peter Moulton calling the plan “null, void and unenforceable.” He also said Mayor Michael Bloomberg “acted arbitrarily and capriciously in establishing the Nissan NV200 as the ‘Taxi of Tomorrow’ and entering into a 10 year, exclusive manufacturing and supply contract” with Nissan. Here’s a copy of the ruling.

Mr. Bloomberg isn’t giving up, despite the fact that his time as mayor is winding down—and environmentalists, advocates for the disabled, and the taxi industry don’t love the plan. An appeal on the mandate will be heard in January.

In the meantime, the NV200 is an approved vehicle that taxi purchasers can use voluntarily, hence the dozen or so that are on the road now.

So why push the #HailYes campaign when the cabs are pretty much nowhere to be found? Is it to encourage cab drivers to independently buy Nissans? To push consumers to demand NV200s regardless of the outcome of January’s hearing?

“Nissan is demonstrating the NV200 taxi’s superiority over every other taxi in New York City,” A Nissan press release helpfully explains. Oh, okay. The campaign also hopes to “engage the 600,000 passengers that New York taxis transport every day, creating a conversation among New Yorkers about the city’s need for a better taxi experience.”

In addition to the other features, the cabs have anti-fatigue seats and odor-reducing carbon liners, which almost sound too good to be true. And Nissan claims the horn is “low-annoyance.” We’ll be the judge of that.

Follow Molly Mulshine on Twitter or via RSS. mmulshine@observer.com