GirlDriver, USA

GirlDriver, USA
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Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The Taxi of Tomorrow is Here--Nissan's New York Cab

GirlDriver, USA drives her first cab
It's official.  The Nissan NV200 based taxi has arrived in New York (end of October, actually) but us journalists were given an opportunity to get behind the wheel on December 10.  I spoke with a driver Dimitrios Rizos, who had his Nissan cab at the press event.  Rizos has been driving for 25 years and his previous cab was a Crown Vic.  He drives about 12 hours a day.   He reports that he is really comfortable for his entire shift now, whereas before he experienced a lot of leg pain.  For my short drive I did note that the driver's seat is 6-way adjustable and features both recline and lumbar adjustments, even with a partition installed.  Nissan has even improved the airflow in the driver's seat using uniques material and stitching.  Rizos loves the high seating position, the visibility, and the comfort of the vehicle.  The Nissan taxi is powered by a 2.0L 4-cylinder powertrain and has a continuously variable transmission.  When I asked about fuel economy, Nissan said that the way in which the cabs were driven made in nearly impossible to guarantee any numbers.  Combine fuel economy is around 23 mpg but it will vary dramatically depending on who is driving.  And New Yorkers know all about that.  One thing we can all love is the taxis low-annoyance horn with exterior lights that indicate when the vehicle is honking.

The drivers and owners of this cab have a number of great new features that bring New York's aging fleet into the 21st Century.  Other conveniences and support for the drivers include a driver USB auxiliary audio input and charge port, standard navigation system with integrated rearview backup monitor, a Hearing Loop System for the hearing impaired, driver and passenger intercom system; and all necessary wiring and installation provisions for putting the cab's header and screens in place.

Our drive took us from Chelsea Piers to Sixth Avenue, up to 34th Street and a couple of other loops.  It was snowy/rainy so I could have picked up any number of fares.  I felt bad for people trying to hail my cab so I stopped or yelled out the window to say I was just test driving.  One woman said, "Oh that is so funny.  I thought you looked awfully well-dressed."  She was giggling all the way to the avenue to find a real cab.

Nissan, which was originally supposed to have an exclusive on the taxi of tomorrow is sharing the road now with Ford, Toyota and other car makers.  They have outfitted their commercial vehicle platform, known as NV200 to accommodate drivers, owners and customers.  "The Nissan Taxi has great features for customers," said Peter Bedrosian, Senior Manager for Product Development.  He pointed out several of the best features.  Among them is the big  transparent roof that gives riders stunning views of city sights and skyscrapers. Other new features include:
I Could Have Made a Few Bucks Today.  I didn't.
  • Ample room for four passengers of any size 
  • Room for four normal suitcases and more, although 80% of cab rides are single passenger with no luggage;
  • Sliding doors with entry step and grab handles, providing easy entry and exit; 
  • Opening side windows;
  • Independently controlled rear air conditioning;
  • Active Carbon-lined headliner to help neutralize interior odors;
  • Overhead reading lights for passengers and floor lighting to help locate belongings;
  • Mobile charging ports for passengers, including a 12-volt electrical outlet and two USB ports;
  • Breathable, antimicrobial, environment-friendly, durable and easy-to-clean seat fabric, simulating the look and feel of leather; and
  • Flat "no hump" passenger floor area for more comfortable ride.
Other notable NV200 taxi features focus on driver comfort, customer satisfaction and the environment: Sliding doors and door-opening warning lamps lessen the risk of pedestrians, cyclists and other motorists getting struck when doors open unexpectedly. In addition, the new cab is the first New York taxi to be crash-tested with taxi equipment installed, including the partition. The NV200 taxi also features front and rear-seat occupant curtain airbags, and seat-mounted airbags for the front row along with standard traction control and Vehicle Dynamic Control.
Nissan has also partnered with Braun Corp., the world leader in automotive mobility products, to develop, engineer and produce a creative wheelchair-accessible option for the NV200 taxi. Drawing on Braun's innovation and experience in the mobility industry, the mobility package will be available to all New York taxi medallion holders beginning in April 2014.

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