Tomorrow’s taxi may have a sunroof


Come 2014, taxicabs in New York City will look more like mini-vans carrying kids to soccer games and less like police cruisers carrying people to jail.

The Ford Crown Victoria, the most common model of taxis in the city and a standard in municipal police forces across the country, has been taken off the market and the city has embarked on a search to identify the next “iconic” design to replace it. At a press conference on Monday, Mayor Bloomberg said, “Although the city has long set standards for our taxis, we have never before worked with the auto industry to design a taxicab especially for New York City.”

A field of seven applicants was narrowed to three finalists and includes the car manufacturers Nissan, Ford and Karsan. The last one, not a household name like its competitors, is a Turkish car company that makes cars for Hyundai and Fiat.

Currently 16 different models, including hybrids, mini-vans and S.U.V.s, carry the New York City Taxi logo in a fleet of more than 13,000 registered taxis. The winner of the design contest will receive an exclusive manufacturing deal for 10 years and the models will be phased in over time as older models are retired.

 “There have been many visioning exercises involving forward-thinking designs for futuristic, new taxicabs over the years,” said Taxi and Limousine Commission Chairman David S. Yassky at the press conference. “This project marks the first time ever – anywhere – that such an exercise will be backed up by an automotive manufacturer that can turn these concepts into tangible reality and we are making the public a part of the process.”

The public can visit www.nyc.gov and vote on the design they like best, as well as features they would like to see in the new taxis. Filling out the survey automatically enters participants into a contest to win a year’s worth of free cab fares.

So far, some of the most requested features include sunroofs and electrical outlets so passengers can charge cell phones.