Starting in Spring 2012, six Nissan Leaf electric cars will begin service as regular cabs in New York City, bringing all-electric driving to the busy metered masses of Manhattan. It's part of a test program to see how all-electric vehicles fare as taxis with further electrification of the New York City taxi fleet to follow.
Along with the six Nissan Leaf electrics, the city is looking to fix a serious problem we ourselves found — by installing new charging stations in the city. According to the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission, the chargers will go up at fleet garages and in the homes of the Leaf owner-drivers. Additional chargers stationed in airport holding lots are currently being discussed, which will be good as the NYC Taxi and Limousine Commission lists the Leaf's range as 62 to 138 miles on a single charge.
The six Leafs will be divided up among three fleet-operators, with each pair of Leafs sharing a single medallion. This means that there won't ever be more than three Leafs on the streets at any one time. They won't have any partitions and other than some cameras to watch you in the backseat, they will be set up just like a regular Leaf on the inside.
The NYC Taxi and Limousine Commission described the program with an address to the upcoming participants, to be chosen in January.
This program is a real test with unknown results. We have worked to plan for the "what ifs," but there most likely will be bumps in the road. We want this program to be successful and hope that it will help lead to broader electric-vehicle applications in the taxi industry, but we will need your patience and assistance to get there.
Time will tell if either no-bullshit New Yorkers or the city's budget-minded taxi fleets will accept the new electric vehicles, but from the looks of this pilot program, it seems clear that the city is setting up to turn its cabs electric for good.