Hail no! New taxi cabs called yellow soccer-mom minivans
The doomed Crown Victoria taxis never became an icon like the beloved Checker Cabs of yore, but they did have a certain gritty urban appeal.
But starting in 2013, the city announced Tuesday, the grubby yellow land boats will be replaced by — wait for it — a glorified suburban soccer-mom minivan manufactured by Nissan.
Robert De Niro’s Travis Bickle character in “Taxi Driver” would likely cringe — and plenty of New Yorkers Tuesday didn’t need any prompting to do so.
“It looks perfect for when I have to pick up my soccer team from practice,” snarked Julian McCullough, 30, an East Village comedian.
The Nissan NV200 minivan, 13,000 of which will eventually hit the streets by decade’s end, does have one big selling point: its size.
“It’s large!” said Darcelle Telemaque, 23, of Flatbush. “Can you imagine them speeding down the street and coming around the corner? Watch out.”
Even Mayor Michael Bloomberg, while lauding its safety features and roominess, conceded that the car appears better suited for the streets of suburbia.
“That’s probably true,” he said at a City Hall news conference.
The city selected the Nissan minivan over designs by Ford and a Turkish company, Karsan, whose aesthetic design New Yorkers preferred.
TLC Commissioner David Yassky called the NV200 the “heir apparent” to the city’s iconic Checker cab.
Selling points that may win people over include outlets to charge cell phones, transparent roofs for viewing the skyline and ample “knee room.” An all-electric model is also a possibility.
Cab rider Carole Kemack, 73, doesn’t need convincing.
“I’m a big person, so it’s hard for me to get my butt in the seat and swing my legs over,” said the Chelsea resident. “I can’t wait for something better.”
Aesthetics weren’t the only reason the new cabs were taken to the woodshed.
Public Advocate Bill de Blasio criticized the Bloomberg administration’s selection of Nissan, in part, for “giving away a $1 billion contract to a company based overseas without seeking any commitments for investment in our local and national economies.”
There had been talk production of one of the rejected models, by Karsan, would take place in Brooklyn, but the city raised concerns about logistics.
City officials did say that while the cars will be built in Mexico, any conversion or upgrades would be done in the U.S.