Only three weeks before Nissan's lucrative and exclusive partnership with New York City's "#Taxi of Tomorrow" plan was set to launch, the city has pulled the plug on the deal.
NYC's plan to create a world class uniform taxi fleet featuring state of the art vehicles was voided by a judge. It would have required that every new taxi in the city be a Nissan NV200, and would have put about $1 billion into Nissan's coffers.
The judge ruled that the Taxi and Limousine Commission had overstepped it's authority and infringed on the powers of City Council by awarding the exclusive contract to Nissan and furthering the notion that NYC should have one 'iconic' taxicab. The Greater New York Taxi Association was a major objector, claiming that the taxi commission does not have the power to force a particular vehicle on taxi operators.
The ten year contract meant that Nissan could expect to supply as many as 26,000 NYC taxicabs. The automaker is considering it's options, and is working with interested fleet owners.
This the second time that a judge has blocked the Taxi of Tomorrow Plan, the first time was because it did not allow taxi operators to buy hybrid vehicles. The plan was then revised by the taxi commission to permit hybrid vehicles until Nissan is able to provide a hybrid version of the NV200.
It was hoped that the Taxi of Tomorrow image building initiative would turn NYC taxis into something of a tourist attraction, akin to the double-decker buses in London, England. Formulated by Mayor Michael Bloomberg and other city officials, the plan called for vehicles to be roomy, comfortable, state of the art and environmentally friendly. Since this is a low-volume vehicle in terms of production, the deal guaranteed exclusivity for ten years. After public hearings to consider the options, the field was narrowed down to three vehicles, one from Ford, another from a small Turkish company, and Nissan, who's NV200 won the bid.
Despite the relatively low volume, Nissan was confident that it could turn a profit on this deal. They invested in design to meet and comply with the needs of the agreement, and to manufacture it in North America. Corporate costs, marketing expenses as well as research & development were all incurred by Nissan, only to have the rug pulled out from under them three weeks before the plan was to launch.
Now out a great deal of money, Nissan is putting the taxi version of it's NV200 on sale regardless. Potential customers are still NYC taxis, but also fleets all over the country.
By Linda Aylesworth - autoExpert.ca