New passenger-friendly NYC taxis coming

The Nissan NV200 van was selected from among The Nissan NV200 van was selected from among three finalists. Photo Credit: City of New York via Getty Images

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In a cab and your cellphone just died? Before long, that may not be a problem in Manhattan. You'll be able to just plug it in.

New taxis hitting the streets of New York City late next year will have charging ports for riders' electronics. They'll also have more leg room, a large skylight roof to gaze at the skyscrapers and even odor-reducing and antimicrobial fabric to help deal with -- well, you know -- anything you might smell in the backseat of a cab.

A prototype of the Nissan NV200 van will be unveiled Tuesday. The model was selected from among three finalists.

With a boxy shape and painted a brighter yellow than the city's current taxis, the cab offers a different visual and physical experience for riders, starting with a flat, hump-less floor that makes shifting from one side to the other simple.

City Taxi and Limousine Commissioner David Yassky said busy New Yorkers looking to get from point A to point B would find plenty to appreciate about the new rides that will get them there.

"New Yorkers are pragmatic but they also appreciate quality. This is a higher-quality taxi ride than what they're getting today," he said Monday.

The vehicle's doors slide open, so no more risk of hitting a passing bicycle messenger, and they'll all come with a navigation system, so no more getting lost in the outer boroughs.

There are floor lights, to help find anything that may have fallen to the floor, as well as overhead lights for reading.

The Nissan van, which beat out proposals from Ford Motor Co. and Turkey's Karsan, will be phased in beginning in October 2013 as older taxis age out of service. But all current taxis, including the hybrids, won't be off the streets until 2018.

Nissan spokesman Steven Oldham said the company would be undertaking a pilot program with the Nissan Leaf electric car to see if it would be feasible to make the taxis electric in the coming years.

The vehicles will sell for about $29,000, and will come with the partitions included, Yassky said. Meters and the medallions will be the responsibilities of the buyers. -- AP

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