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New York City and Nissan Launch LEAF Taxis

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On: Mon, Apr 29, 2013 at 9:42AM | By: Chris Weiss

New York City and Nissan Launch LEAF Taxis

Given the auto industry's focus on green fuel alternatives, increased fuel economy and decreased emissions, Earth Day is becoming a big media day. The Nissan LEAF, Kelley Blue Book's choice for greenest car in the country, is auditioning for the role of taxi in the world's most famous taxi market: New York City. Nissan and the city announced a new partnership on April 22, Earth Day 2013.

NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Nissan announced a new LEAF pilot program that puts six LEAF models in service on New York streets. The pilot is designed to provide information and real-world experience on how electric vehicles can be integrated into taxi fleets in the present and future.

The new LEAF pilot comes on the heels of New York City selecting the 2.0-liter NV200 people mover as its "Taxi of Tomorrow." Beginning later this year, retiring taxi models will be replaced by the NV200 in an effort to boost the fleet's efficiency and cut emissions.

"As part of our commitment to zero emission vehicles for the mass-market, Nissan is looking for ways to broaden the use of electric cars, including commercial applications like taxis," explains Joe Castelli, vice president, Nissan Commercial Vehicles. "Following the selection of Nissan NV200 as New York City's Taxi of Tomorrow, our relationship with the city provides us the ultimate proving ground to conduct this LEAF taxi pilot to help optimize the use of electric vehicle technology for future applications."

While we could see LEAF EVs being a practical solution on small, defined routes, such as shuttles between the airport and nearby hotels, serving the greater passenger-defined routes of New York City seems like it could cause problems for a car that can't go more than 75 miles before recharging. A couple of trips between Manhattan and Queens and the LEAF is out of service for hours.

To help prevent any such problems, Nissan and its partners are installing a series of CHAdeMO-based DC quick chargers around New York. These chargers can get the LEAF's battery up to 80 percent full in about half an hour—longer than the average gas pump stop, but quick enough that taxi drivers can juice up during their shifts.

In discussing the pilot and EV taxis in general, Mayor Bloomberg said, "Even though the Taxi of Tomorrow won't be on the road for another six months, we're already looking ahead to the taxi of the day after tomorrow. Nissan's proven track record with electric vehicles will put us ahead of the curve in helping us answer important questions about incorporating electric taxis into the fleet so that we can achieve the goal of a one-third electric taxi fleet by 2020."

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