Yesterday, after a multi-year selection process fraught with accusations of questionable ethical decisions, Mayor Mike Bloomberg's team has finally settled on a design for a new New York taxi. I freakin' hate it.
The city of New York will choose Nissan as the supplier for the next generation of taxi cabs, giving the Japanese automaker an exclusive ten-year contract for the city's fleet of 13,200 yellow people haulers.
They've created a design that we're told is based off of the same automotive architecture that brought us the somewhat-stylishly-unique Cube. But instead of something as uniquely-styled as the Cube, Nissan designed a boring, egg-shaped minivan.
How ridiculous is it that the next New York taxi will be a vehicle designed for soccer moms? As someone who spends a lot of time here in New York City, I don't want to get into a minivan, I don't want to ride in a minivan, and I certainly don't want to be seen getting out of a minivan. I'm sorry, it just doesn't look cool.
And although saying that might make me vain, I don't care because that, more than anything, is why I hate it. There's nothing special about a minivan. Not that the Crown Vic was as unique-looking as the old Checker cabs, mind you, but at least — in today's world anyway — it was quaintly old-fashioned. Partly that was because it was built on the 20-year-old Panther platform, but also, partly, because it still looks cool to get out of a big sedan. And if I've just surrendered the control of my life to a cab driver, I don't want to die in a minivan.
Not that the other choices were any better, but at least the Karsan and Ford choices each had their own unique benefits — whether it was handicapped accessibility or being an American company. This new Nissan taxi, however, will look just like every other minivan you'd find in the suburbs. There's nothing iconic about it. Is a minivan really the icon we want to represent New York?
All I know is you'll find me turning my nose up and my thumb down to these new boxes when they hit the streets. Instead, you'll find me searching out those cabbies still driving the big, old yellow sedans I know and love for as long as I can. Because if Ford won't keep building them, then you'll have to pry the last of the Crown Vics from my cold, dead, fare-holding hand.