Taxis in the Big Apple

Last Saturday was the penultimate day of the New York Auto Show. Having been a grizzled veteran visitor of the Detroit Auto Show (13 attendances without a break), I decided to sample the attractions of the Big Apple. This post is not going where you think it is going. It is not about my impressions of the NY auto show. It is rather about what I saw was being used as a taxi. The humble but effective Ford Escape Hybrid. Of course, a slim majority were the mainstays – the Crown Vic. And there was a smattering of Altimas, Priuses (or Prii?) and minivans.  But the second biggest group was the Escape Hybrid.
Come to think of it, it the best adapted car to do battle on the potholed streets of NYC. High ground clearance enables it to drive over curbs without scraping its underbelly. Most OEMs put their crossovers/mini-SUVs in durability routines meant for trucks. This should stand the Escape in good stead. But its forte is that the hybrid system is tailor made for slow speed dog-fighting or jockeying in the streets and avenues of Manhattan and Brooklyn.
There have been some issue over rollover risk in the Escape but that is a function of its high center or gravity. (http://wot.motortrend.com/new-report-says-ford-escape-hybrid-taxis-are-unsafe-in-accidents-2431.html) A lower ride height and an aggressive stability control can mitigate that risk. Plus making sure that the driver partition does not impede the deploying of the curtain airbag.
Ford Transit Connect
I have frankly been puzzled by the Taxi and Limousine commission’s selection of the Nissan NV200. Though beauty is in the eye of the beholder, it  has quite a plain-Jane kind of look to it. Most of its ‘features’ such as USB charging and interior lights can easily be replicated in any vehicle. And shouldn’t it be manufactured in the US rather than Mexico, NAFTA notwithstanding. Doesn’t Nissan have a big plant in the American south, Tennessee to be precise? The NYC taxi website boasts that it can be easily manufactured as an electric vehicle. But isn’t the Ford Transit Connect already available as an electric version. So what gives?
The Nissan NV200
And with Nissan winning the exclusive right to supply taxicabs, doesn’t it give one supplier too much power and not enough leverage to the cab drivers?
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