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New York cabbies are now required to buy the controversial 'Taxi of Tomorrow'

Nissan

As of today, taxi owners in New York City are required to purchase Nissan's NV200 minivan — the so-called Taxi of Tomorrow — when replacing their current vehicles, NY1 reports. This marks the conclusion of a fraught, four-year journey: New York first selected the NV200 in May of 2011, but was met with resistance, controversy, and legal challenges over then-mayor Michael Bloomberg's demand that taxi companies upgrade to the NV200 quickly. The small van, which looks oddly narrow and tall when it's ambling down Manhattan's streets and avenues, has also gotten knocks for being a pure-gas vehicle (not a hybrid or an electric) and for not being accessible to wheelchairs out of the box. (Nissan is working on an electric version of the van called the e-NV200, but Taxi of Tomorrow specifications don't call for it.)

NV200

Inside, the NV200 is arguably a decent upgrade from the aging Ford Crown Victorias that it will replace, featuring sliding doors, passenger airbags, rear climate controls, and an electronic intercom to the driver — if you want to have a private conversation, you can just turn it off.

The new taxis have been available to purchase for some time, but this marks the first time that owners must buy them — they were merely an option before. But the rule change comes just as New York's traditional taxi base is under unprecedented attack from popular ride services like Uber and Lyft, which could mean that NV200s won't flood the streets in the same way taxis of the past did; the industry is hoping that a new e-hailing app will help turn those fortunes around.