The Nissan Leaf will soon become the first electric car in the New York City taxi system. A pilot program will introduce six of the cabs in early 2012, with Nissan and NYC providing them to current taxi drivers and gathering feedback for up to a year. Since the Nissan NV200 — chosen as the NYC "Taxi of Tomorrow" — can be manufactured as an electric car, the results of this program will likely determine whether the city's next generation of taxis will use electric power.
The program will also be partially addressing the lack of charging stations in the city — a major issue for taxi drivers using the Leaf, which needs charging every 62 to 138 miles. Options will still be limited, but stations in airport holding lots and some other locations are under discussion. Nissan and NYC are also trying to work around the relatively long charging time of electric cars by providing each fleet or owner with two cabs, one of which will charge while the other is on-duty. With over 13,000 taxis operating in the city, the odds of catching an electric ride will still be pretty slim, but you can at least feel a little better now about not taking public transportation.