Hey, new Taxi!

Nissan has won a 10-year, $1 billion contract to supply New York City with the “Taxi of Tomorrow,” the vehicle that will replace the Ford Crown Victoria as the standard yellow cab for the Big Apple’s taxi operators starting in 2013.

Based on a small commercial van that is not sold in the United States called the NV200, Nissan’s entry was chosen over similar proposals from Ford and Karsan, a Turkish automaker that recently pledged to assemble its vehicle in Brooklyn.

At an event today announcing the decision, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said that the Nissan was chosen due to excellent scores on rider comfort, safety features and lowest operating costs during the evaluation process.

The NV200 will be manufactured in Mexico and converted for taxi duty at a yet to be determined facility in the New York metropolitan area. The price is expected to be approximately $29,000. In stark contrast to the gas-guzzling, V8-powered Crown Victoria the NV200 will run on a fuel-efficient four-cylinder engine and get 25 miles per gallon.

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Nissan says its taxi will have room for four passengers, a transparent roof for sightseeing, 12V and USB charging outlets for mobile electronic devices and a grape phenol-coated air filter to keep things fresh in the cabin. The NV200 also will be the first taxi to be crash tested with all equipment installed, including the security partition, and will be equipped with front and rear side curtain airbags.

There are more than 13,000 licensed taxis operating in New York City, and about 3,000 of them are replaced each year. In addition to the NV200, Nissan will also provide six Leaf electric cars to several operators in 2012 to test their viability for future use as cabs. A small number of Nissan Altima Hybrids are currently used in New York City as yellow cabs and as patrol cars by the New York Police Department.

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