Taxi

Nissan's NYC Taxi Monopoly Has Been Hilariously Troublesome

It's called getting sued by taxi companies who don't want the thing.

A couple of years ago, New York City put out a tender for automakers to design and build the next generation taxi cab. The goal was to replace the supposedly aging fleet of Ford Crown Victorias and other older vehicles converted to taxis. In the end, Nissan won the contract with its NV200, the supposed "Taxi of Tomorrow," as dubbed by former NYC mayor Michael Bloomberg. By now the Big Apple should be flooded with these yellow vans. However, there are no more than 500 working as of now. So, what’s gone wrong? In a word: politics.

A lawsuit was filed two years ago by the Greater New York Taxi Association, claiming to represent nearly one-third of the city’s taxi owners. Among other grievances, the group argued that the NYC-Nissan exclusivity deal (read: monopoly) will hurt taxi owners financially by not having the ability to seek competitive pricing from other automakers, the NV200 is an unproven vehicle, its panoramic moonroof isn’t safe, and that Nissan North America doesn’t have the manufacturing ability to keep up with NYC’s taxi trade. “Why can’t we have competition?” the group’s attorney asks. “Why did the city think there had to be exclusivity? It stifles competition and stops innovation.

"Why couldn’t we just have standards for the taxi, and if Toyota and Ford wanted to offer an identical vehicle that might be somehow better or more competitive, why can’t they?" Nissan has a 10-year contract with the city and by next fall, two years will have elapsed. The appeals court will probably hear the case this spring. The bottom line is that this whole thing may have been more trouble than what it’s worth for Nissan considering its investment in the project.

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