The future of New York taxicabs was officially unveiled at the International Auto Show Tuesday (NYT link) and, though they've had a year to prepare themselves for it, people are still reeling from the boxy banality of it all. As one Brooklynite told NPR:
"Now our taxicabs are bright yellow minivans. What's happening? The suburbification of New York City?"
Looks like someone will be demanding cabs drop him off two blocks away from every destination because, Mommmm, your car is embarrassinnnnng.
The cabs, $29,700 Nissan NV200s, will be phased onto city roads beginning October of 2013. They're expected to fully replace all of New York's 13,000 cabs by 2018, by which time we'll all be taking self-driving flying cars to our space jobs at shiny silver clothing manufacturing plants (American Apparel), anyway, so, joke's on Nissan, suckaz.
Or not. The contract to produce the new cabs, which the city awarded the company last May, was worth an estimated $1 billion.
As for the good stuff: the cabs will boast a "low-annoyance horn" described in this New York Times article as "a mournful trumpet blast"—jazzy, baby, jazzy—and flat floors, which will make it easier to move around and also to perform some sort of prank involving lying flat on the floor. We have a year to work out specifics.
Other amenities include: tinted skylights, power outlets, most mercifully, seats made out of odor-absorbing antimicrobial material.
The minivans will be able to hold four passengers (one in front, three in back) and will have more legroom and trunk space than the city's famous Crown Victoria cabs. Since they're minivans, they'll also have sliding doors, the likes of which no one, not one person, has ever looked cool opening.
One thing the cabs will not feature: people in wheelchairs. Nissan says the vehicles can be modified to fit a wheelchair, but, as those changes will add to the $29,700 sticker price, they will not come standard. London's black cabs, by contrast, are all wheelchair accessible.
So as not to end on that downer note, the best news of all is this: the new Nissan NV200s will be painted a slightly brighter shade of yellow than the taxis currently on the road, since that was, hands down, everyone's number one complaint about New York City cabs.
Could be yellower.