New York, its streets once synonymous with the famous Checkers Cabs, is now turning to hybrids under a five-year environmental agenda first proposed in 2007 by Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
The Checkersâ€™ replacement was a spacious but genuinely deplorable hunk of metal otherwise known as the Ford Crown Victoria - also favoured by US cops (youâ€™ll remember Jake and Elwood Blues tried to kill a thousand or so of these in the famous Blues Brothers â€˜cop car chaseâ€™.)
Now, something that the rest of the world has known for a long time, the Ford Victoria has been adjudged as officially â€˜on the noseâ€™, and is to be relieved of its taxi duties. (The Crown Victoria is also, apparently, the car that keeps the Falcon out of Middle East markets.)
â€œReplacing the cityâ€™s 13000 yellow cabs - more than 90 percent of which are Crown Victorias - with hybrid vehicles would have the same impact on air quality as removing 32,000 privately owned vehicles from the road,â€ the Mayor said, as reported in the New York Times.
Now, three major auto manufacturers are promising to reserve 300 new hybrid vehicles a month for New York to help it replace, over a period of years, its entire fleet of yellow cabs.
Nissan North America, General Motors and the Ford Motor Co. said that they are setting aside the hybrids to help the city reach its goal of making all yellow cabs green by 2012. There are about 13,000 cabs running around the â€˜big appleâ€™ and now, nearing the second year of the plan, more than 10 per cent are hybrids.
New regulations stipulate that any new cab coming into service in NY city after October 1 2008, achieve a fuel-efficiency standard of 25 miles per gallon (9.4 l/100km). The following year, that increases to 30 miles per gallon (7.8 l/100km).
(The Ford Crown Victoria gets about 14 miles per gallon or 16.8 l/100km. Even larger hybrids on NY streets achieve better than half that figure.)
In addition to the models shown above, the Toyota Prius sedan, Toyota Highlander Hybrid, and Ford Escape, are also being shanghaied into the new â€˜clean and greenâ€™ taxi service.