New York commuters are set to bid goodbye to the iconic yellow cab, as the city plans to get it replaced by a smarter and trendier model for the 21 century.
Three models have been short-listed by the Taxi and Limousine Commission - the Ford Transit Connect, the Nissan NV200 and the Karsan V1 - though they said they may not choose any of the three.
The city has never before worked with the auto industry to design one taxicab specifically for the city, until now. Each of the designs is promising, but none is perfect. We are not obliged to go with anything if it does not meet our needs, New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg was quoted as saying.
The city had called for cab makeover proposals in December 2009, inviting car manufacturers to create a taxicab specifically designed for New York City.
Among the three models, Turkish company Karsan is the front runner to become the official taxi, according to various reports.
This taxi is all about comfort, access, sustainability and durability, said William Wachtel, president of KarsanUSA. The Karsan V1 has been specifically designed and engineered to be a New York City taxi. It will be the first purpose-designed taxi in New York since the beloved Checker, and has specific features to meet the needs of passengers, the disabled, drivers and taxi owners.
The cab is outfitted with wheelchair accessible ramps which extend from both rear passenger side doors. There is no front passenger seat, which is instead used for extra luggage storage space.
The Karsan cab was inspired by New York City, said Tolga Kaan Donanicioiglu, the company's design team manager. The vehicle's straight lines were inspired by Manhattan's grid, and the curved roof was inspired by round city icons like Columbus Circle and the Guggenheim Museum, he explained.
This vehicle has been designed from scratch, said Jan Nahum, Karsan's executive director. The shape would be perfect for New York City, he added.
The Karsan's rear-mounted powerplant, a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder, is built by an American company that Mr. Wachtel declined to name. The taxi can also reportedly accommodate a hybrid or purely electric powertrain and can run on compressed natural gas.
New York City's taxi fleet is managed by private companies, not by the city. Once the car is shortlisted by the Taxi and Limousine Commission, it would grant exclusive selling rights for a 10-year period.